A lack of knowledge about autonomous vehicles makes people hesitant to have them transport people, according to the J.D. Power 2022 Mobility Confidence Index.
J.D. Power exports report the fear stems from a lack of knowledge about autonomous vehicles because of confusing industry messaging. Respondents to this year’s survey, knew little more about autonomous vehicles than 2021 participants.
“Industry stakeholders must work together to ensure clear and consistent messaging, and the use of consumer-facing terminology is part of this,” Lisa Boor, senior manager of auto benchmarking and mobility development, J.D. Power, told Ward’s Auto. “Understanding which words and phrases resonate with consumers can help manage misconceptions and improve consumer understanding of AVs, which is a common goal.”
J.D. Power’s research supports this sentiment. The data found 56% of study respondents thought current driver technologies are the same as fully automated self-driving systems. Consumers also showed confusion about the terminology used to describe different levels of automation.
Consumers use the same three terms—assisted driving, driver assistance, and semi-autonomous to describe multiple levels of automation. The expressed confusion over industry terms like SAE Level 2 and SAE level 3, which refer to increasingly higher levels of driver assistance, reported J.D. Power.
The research found 37% of consumers report seeking information on fully-automated self-driving vehicles. These consumers use online sources to find information, with 54% using online searches, 45% using online videos, and 39% using vehicle manufacturer or developer websites.
The research also revealed consumers are less ready for automated self-driving vehicles than they were a year ago: The index score for consumer AV readiness of 39 (on a 100-point scale), a 3-percentage-point decline from 2021. Consumers share they have the lowest comfort levels when riding in a fully automated, self-driving vehicle and using fully automatic, self-driving public transit. They feel better about those AVs being used to transport goods or for people whose age or injuries prevent them from driving.
Consumers reported they are receptive to AV training, with over half saying they were willing to complete training to operate an AV. But right now, 26% of consumers report they learn about advanced driving systems at dealerships. Other respondents reported getting insights from owners manuals (32%) and online searches (27%).
Respondents also reported avoiding active driving assistance. In fact, just 26% of them reported using active driving assistance. Those who do use the technology, however,say they want it on their next vehicles.
The research suggests consumer comfort with automation may be overstated. Respondents who shared driver assist technology is the maximum level of automation with which they are comfortable remained unchanged at 41%. Even consumers who have comfort with the highest levels of automation express a lack of trust and concern that the developing technology is not proven. Over three-fourths (76%) sought more information on how the vehicle technology meets government standards to feel comfortable with automated vehicles.
The J.D. Power 2022 Mobility Confidence Index Study is based on responses from 4,000 vehicle owners in the U.S. age 18 and older.
The study, conducted in June, is based on six unique attributes of consumer comfort with fully automated, self-driving vehicles. The research measures consumer readiness for AV technology in several categories: personal vehicles; commercial vehicles; public transit; riding if unable to drive because of age or injury; sharing the road with other AVs; and consumer purchase intent.
J.D. Power, Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE) and the MIT Advanced Vehicle Technology (AVT) Consortium conducted the study.