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Study: Most People Think Self-Driving Cars Are Here, Totally Safe

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So, according to a new study, apparently 71 percent of people globally think that you can buy a self-driving vehicle right now. A tenth of the people in the study also would totally be cool with having a nap while letting these systems take over.

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So, before we clear things up, here are some worrying results of the study:

  • 71 percent of drivers globally said they believed you could buy a car that can drive itself today
  • 18 percent of British respondents said they thought a car with automatic steering, braking, and acceleration would let them “sit back and relax and let the car do the driving”
  • 34 percent of all respondents would let semi-autonomous system take over while they texted
  • 33 percent would do the same for a phone call
  • 11 percent would take a nap
  • 51 percent thought they would be liable if they crashed while using semi-autonomous systems

And why?

Now, we have talked before about how we absolutely do not have real self-driving cars on the road. What we have right now is more like fancy, and flawed, cruise control. However, this study from Thatcham Research, Euro NCAP, and Global NCAP, pointed a finger at marketing around these systems as confusing consumers.

Thatcham Research Director of Research Matthew Avery said in a statement, “Some carmakers are designing and marketing vehicles in such a way that drivers believe they can relinquish control. Carmakers want to gain competitive edge by referring to ‘self-driving’ or ‘semi-autonomous’ capability in their marketing, but it is fuelling consumer confusion. This is exacerbated by some systems doing too much for the driver, who ends up disengaged.”

Avery later added that these systems present a dangerous balancing act for automakers. On the one hand, if you do too much for the driver they disengage from the road. However, if you don’t do enough, they just turn the system off and ignore it. Above all, the researchers called for better information for consumers. It even suggested a potential method, with 77 percent of surveyed people saying they would watch an online training video to understand these systems better.

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Editorial opinion

These are some really worrying results at first look. In the end, though, you can take these figures with a several sizable grains of salt.

First, this data was collected online “throughout October 2018” (the research was unveiled on the 18th). Then, there were just 1,567 people in the survey. Also, “global” just means survey-takers from China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, and the US.

However, I still think that it’s valuable to remind people about the limits of their car’s semi-autonomous technology. This is especially valuable as automakers are putting their own systems in more mainstream cars, which have some glaring, possibly dangerous problems.

News Source: Thatcham Research