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Consumers are Ready for Self-Driving Vehicles

Brian Markwalter, Senior VP, Research and Standards, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)
Kay Stepper, VP, Head of Regional Business Unit Driver Assistance & Automated Driving , Bosch

Self-driving vehicles (SDVs) will transform the future of mobility – reducing human error, improving road safety, cutting carbon emissions and providing greater flexibility to consumers. And self-driving technology is evolving faster than many people predicted just 12 months ago.

Last year, research and analytics firm IHS projected self-driving sales would hit 21 million by 2035. But in the last year, car makers seemed to have accelerated their schedule. Audi plans to roll out self-driving “Level 3” –in which the driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at any time– in some models by 2020. Ford says it will offer self-driving cars by 2021. Nissan reports commercially-viable fully self-driving cars will be road ready in 2020. Already, the 2018 Nissan Leaf is equipped to handle single-lane highway driving on its own. Many of these accelerated introductions are aimed at specific market segments, like ride-hailing fleets. Consumers will experience a more gradual increase in the automation level of the cars they purchase.

New research from Bosch, a global supplier of technology products and services, finds consumers recognize the many benefits of self-driving technology. Sixty-one percent of respondents say SDVs will reduce traffic accidents, and 55 percent say SDVs will give them more free time on the road and ultimately reduce stress levels. Additionally, most consumers are anticipating the arrival of SDVs – 52 percent of new car buyers expect to own at least one self-driving vehicle in the next ten years.

Bosch’s research aligns with the findings of a study produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) last fall, which found the majority of consumers value the safety, cost-savings and mobility possibilities SDVs can deliver. Eight-two percent of consumers say they’re excited by SDVs’ ability to reduce accidents caused by aggressive driving or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Eight in ten recognize that SDVs will save them money on car insurance, and 78 percent are excited this new technology will open new mobility options to people with disabilities.

One caveat for the SDV industry to consider: a majority of Bosch survey respondents expressed concerns about “lack of control” associated with SDVs. To mitigate drivers’ concerns about control, Bosch says it will focus on its commitment to safety measures in building these systems, specifically highlighting the high levels of redundancy that are being built into these systems to make automated driving safe and reliable. Bosch is also focused on educational efforts to help the industry as well as the general public understand how vehicles are learning to drive.

Together, the Bosch and CTA studies underscore growing consumer enthusiasm for self-driving cars and drivers’ recognition that auto technology will reduce crashes and save lives. As auto manufacturers increase their efforts to get these cars on the road, Bosch’s and CTA’s findings offer valuable guidance on how to market and deploy this revolutionary technology.

Learn more about self-driving technology and see the latest innovation on display at CES 2018.