For the second year in a row, consumer confidence in automated, self-driving vehicles has declined in J.D. Power surveys. The 2023 US Mobility Confidence Index (MCI) Study from the firm had the index score for consumer readiness for autonomous vehicles drop to 37 on a 100-point scale. Two points down from last year and five points down from the highest scoring year in 2021.
The score applies to both individual fully automated, self-driving vehicles and to automated, self-driving public transit. J.D. Power says that this low public opinion and continued drop in scoring can be attributed to a lack of general knowledge about automated vehicle technology and media coverage that highlights failures with robotaxis and similar vehicles.
Confidence among consumers who have used robotaxi services, scoring nearly double the average (67). Showing that experience with the technology is key.
Further, education of the public about the various types and levels of automation is important in changing views to add confidence. Key findings in the J.D. Power study include:
- Consumers not able to differentiate between lower levels of automation: Technical definitions used by the industry to make the distinction between lower levels of automation in terms of the transfer of control are ineffective. In the consumer’s mind, being ready to take control requires the same responsibility as driving the vehicle without any level of assistance. Failed attempts to define lower levels of automation in consumer-friendly language are evident as the findings show that naming conventions are interchangeable between the two levels even when definitions are provided. Furthermore, there is no distinction in the activities that consumers are willing to do in a vehicle (e.g., talking, texting, online searching) as the level of automation increases from SAE Level 2 to SAE Level 3.
- Hacking prevention and data privacy: More than three-fourths (78%) of consumers want to understand what is being done to prevent AVs from being hacked. Consumers are not comfortable sharing personal information which results from uncertainty as to what information is being shared; how the information is being used; whether it is being stored; and, if so, stored securely. Of the four types of information tested in the study, consumers are more willing to share their blood alcohol level than their location. Incentives do little to change the mind of those who are not comfortable.
- Many owners admit to doing risky things: Owners appreciate that vehicle automation removes the risk of high use case, risky behaviors (e.g., talking, texting, online searching) and provides the opportunity for activities that were previously prohibitive for the driver to do in the vehicle such as sleeping. The study includes insights into the activities and in-vehicle features consumers desire when they no longer need to drive or watch the road.