The perception of many is that most people are still wary of a fully autonomous vehicle. However, a new report from car-shopping platform Edmunds.com, Transportation Transformation, shows that many are more ready for self-driving cars than they may realize.
The report shows that more than 60% of new vehicle models can be purchased with some level of autonomous features. The Society of Automotive Engineers defines these semi-autonomous features level 1 and level 2 autonomy. These are features like auto-braking when the car senses an object in its way, lane assist etc. Five years ago, those kinds of features were offered in less than a quarter of the vehicles on the market.
Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis, spoke with the Insurance Journal about the state of autonomy in the automotive industry, saying that “While there are a number of ways one can define who’s ‘leading’ in the race to autonomy, analyzing the prevalence of active safety features demonstrates just how ready OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] are to bring this technology to mass production, and how willing consumers are to adopt it. While some car buyers may view a fully autonomous vehicle as a novelty, a vehicle that has the ability to prevent an accident before it occurs is seen as a safety breakthrough.”.
Introducing these smaller autonomous safety features is going to be crucial for car brands that want to introduce fully autonomous cars in the future. As Jessica pointed out, many consumers have a negative response to a fully self-driving car, but these level 1 and level 2 autonomous features are seen as safety breakthroughs. If brands can create a sense of trust with their customers surrounding these autonomous features, they will be far more likely to trust them with a fully autonomous vehicle in the future.
“One of the greatest deterrents to progress in this field is consumer acceptance,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told Bloomberg News this summer at a department-sponsored conference. These semi-autonomous features look to be the primary tool used by car manufacturers to bridge that gap between consumer perception and reality on the roadways.