Malfunction Fears May Haunt Self-Driving Cars
Developers of autonomous driving systems still face the challenge of winning the public's trust in the evolving technology. Photo courtesy of Waymo.
In a recent survey assessing American attitudes about autonomous vehicles, 84% of respondents expressed concerns about potential vehicle software malfunctions and 80% said they worry about possible hardware failure.
The survey, conducted by research firm AlixPartners, included 1,567 American consumers who own or operate a passenger car or light truck. The survey was administered between July 27 and Aug. 2 of this year.
Survey results also underscore Americans’ ongoing anxiety over threats to cybersecurity. A total of 77% of those questioned said they have concerns about self-driving cars being hacked and taken over, and 75% said they would worry about having their personal data stolen from an autonomous vehicle.
When asked who they would trust most to protect their data privacy in a self-driving car, 50% said tech companies — compared to just 14% who said auto companies. When asked who they trusted most to protect their vehicle from hacking, 62% said tech companies while 8% said auto companies. Ride-hailing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, placed a far-distant third in trust for both questions — just 1% for each.
While 79% said they trust traditional automakers most to design and develop autonomous vehicle hardware, only 10% said they trust automakers most with the software side. But 78% said they trust tech companies most to design and develop AV software. Just 10% said they trust tech companies most for designing and building vehicles.
Nearly half of those surveyed (49%) said they don’t currently feel confident in the ability of autonomous vehicles to navigate them safely. A total of 55% said they’re unlikely to consider purchasing a self-driving car. Additionally, just 29% of consumers said they’d be willing to consider buying an autonomous vehicle and to pay an incremental $2,600 on average for the privilege.
“When it comes to autonomous vehicles, traditional auto companies and suppliers have a big, two-front battle ahead of them: educating the consumer about AVs and figuring out how to compete in the software end with highly advantaged tech companies – or partner with them when that makes more sense,” said Mark Wakefield, global co-head of the automotive and industrial practice at AlixPartners. “Either way, traditional auto will have to undertake massive operational and organizational changes to afford the autonomous-vehicle investments, be successful with partnerships and not get left out of the profitable parts of the new automotive ecosystem.”