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Consumers and Driverless Technology: Awareness Breeds Excitement

October 29, 2020 Karl Iagnemma, President and CEO Consumer Mobility Report

Driverless technology is the transformative technology of our generation. It will make our roads significantly safer while reducing congestion, increasing our free time, and improving access to mobility. This technology, however, remains unfamiliar to most people, and we know that a lack of familiarity can breed skepticism and misunderstanding.

This was one of many findings in the Motional Consumer Mobility Report, a deep dive into the public view of driverless technology. The report is a snapshot of consumer sentiment around our industry, their hopes for a driverless future, and how global events are shaping their perception of driverless vehicles.

From my perspective as Motional’s CEO, the most encouraging findings show that familiarity and understanding are key to pushing back skepticism and apprehension. Those who understand driverless technology are seven times more likely to be excited about the technology — and twenty-two times more likely to use it regularly if they could.

Furthermore, fans and followers of our industry outpace their counterparts in believing in the safety of driverless technology (76% v. 10%) and in believing self-driving vehicles are the way of the future (82% v. 23%). Today, those ‘extremely knowledgeable’ consumers make up 13% of Americans.

The data repeatedly highlights the importance of educating consumers about driverless technology. We know that the public’s primary concern is safety — over two-thirds of Americans rank it as their top consideration when selecting a driverless vehicle — and the open, qualitative responses reveal a key theme: the public questions if we’re doing enough. Have we conducted enough research, gathered enough data, and done enough testing to ensure that our driverless vehicles are safe?

At Motional, we engage in rigorous testing before our vehicles operate on public roads. We put our software through a minimum of 40,000 simulations and extensive additional testing on closed courses. We’ve completed over 100,000 public rides in Las Vegas with nearly every trip awarded a five star rating by real passengers. We’ve led the industry in data sharing with the nuScenes public datasets, in an effort to make the entire industry’s technology smarter, safer, and more reliable. We helped develop the Safety First for Automated Driving white paper, establishing a framework for the creation, testing, and validation of safe self-driving vehicles.

Exactly half of the public believes it is the responsibility of driverless vehicle companies to bring the technology into communities. To do this, and change how the world moves, we must first earn the public’s trust, by helping them better understand our technology, and continuing to deliver that technology with unquestionable safety.

The correlation between understanding, confidence and excitement is clear, and it underscores our responsibility to foster the public’s awareness and drive their enthusiasm for driverless technology. We’re up for that challenge, and we look forward to earning your trust in the process.