Fully automated self-driving vehicles were the subject of a recent survey conducted by J.D. Power.  -  Photo via  unsplash.com /Brock Wegner

Fully automated self-driving vehicles were the subject of a recent survey conducted by J.D. Power.

Photo via unsplash.com/Brock Wegner

A new study from J.D. Power finds that only 37% of respondents were able to accurately define a fully automated self-driving vehicle (AV), while 55% were inaccurate and described systems that are aligned with driver assist technology as opposed to autonomous vehicles.

The findings point to a significant gap between actual and perceived knowledge regarding AVs on the part of drivers, and experts say it is incumbent on the industry to educate consumers.

The study indicates that consumer interest in AVs increased 10% from the J.D. Power 2020 Q3 MCI Study, with 51% now having more general interest due to something they read or heard. However, only 29% of respondents have actively sought out information about AVs.

The majority (53%) of respondents believe the best way to learn about AVs is a driver’s education course for self-driving vehicles. An even greater number of people — 58% — also say they are willing to complete specialized training for a special AV driver’s license.

Safety has been a continual concern for many when it comes to AVs. However, the survey shows that consumer comfort with AVs is on the rise.

Nearly one-third (31%) of respondents say they are very comfortable or extremely comfortable with transporting goods in a fully automated, self-driving vehicle, and the comfort level increases to 47% among those with an active driving assistance feature on their current vehicle.

Respondents also see the benefit in fully automated self-driving vehicles for those unable to drive due to age or injury, with 27% overall supporting this idea, and 45% among those with active driving assistance on their current vehicle.

Noteworthy, consumers are least comfortable with AV technology when it involves them personally.

Situations that are more likely to affect a consumer personally — AV public transit and riding in fully automated self-driving vehicles — have the lowest levels of comfort, according to the study.

The J.D. Power 2021 Mobility Confidence Index (MCI) Study is based on responses from 4,000 vehicle owners in the United States age 18 and older who completed a 15-minute online survey. 

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