Experts Claim Autonomous Cars Are Still a Decade Away, Report States

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【Summary】A CNBC report that cites a survey that questioned automotive and tech experts claims that autonomous vehicles are still a decade, or more, away.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Sep 16, 2019 6:00 AM PT
Experts Claim Autonomous Cars Are Still a Decade Away, Report States

Things with autonomous vehicles in the U.S. seem to be progressing at a good rate. More states, like Florida , are allowing companies to test self-driving cars without safety drivers, automakers are starting to expand their driverless programs, and more tech companies are developing new technology. Based on how things are going, one would assume that autonomous cars are right around the corner. But a report from CNBC claims that isn't the case.

Perfection Is Still Out Of Reach

Citing a survey that questioned experts from the auto and tech industries that was completed by J.D. Power, the outlet claims that there are challenges with perfecting driverless technology that will hold self-driving cars back from going mainstream in the near future.

"It's going to be around that decade-plus before that is going to be an option for consumers to purchase a self-driving vehicle," said Kristin Kolodge, executive director, driver interaction & human machine interface research at J.D. Power.

As part of its first Mobility Confidence Index that was conducted with some help from SurveyMonkey, the marketing information services company polled over 100 experts and over 5,749 consumers to see whether experts and consumers share the same opinions on autonomous vehicles. The findings don't bode too well for self-driving cars. 

Scores are based on three categories: low (0-40), neutral (41-60), and positive (61-100). The Mobility Confidence Index score for autonomous vehicles is 36, which is low. That, as J.D. Power states, means a low level of confidence for the future of self-driving cars. Consumers aren't too sure about being comfortable when riding in autonomous cars (34) and aren't comfortable with sharing the road in self-driving vehicles (35), either.

When questioned on how far off autonomous vehicles are, experts stated that autonomous vehicles for public transportation, delivery purposes and taxi services are five to six years off. Self-driving cars that will be available for purchase are still 12 years away. There's a disconnect for consumers, as they stated that autonomous cars for mobility purposes won't be available until another 10 years.

Consumers And Experts Aren't Crazy About Driverless Cars

In terms of safety, consumers are split 40 percent to 40 percent on whether autonomous vehicles will improve traffic safety. Age plays a large role in whether consumers believe self-driving cars will be safer, as 52 percent of consumers from Generation Z claimed that they'll improve traffic safety, while only 45 percent of Gen Y felt the same.

A lack of knowledge from a consumer standpoint may have a lot to do with how they feel about autonomous cars. The majority of consumer respondents (66 percent) admitted to having little to no knowledge of autonomous cars. The youngest generation, Gen Z claimed to have the most knowledge, while Baby Boomers claimed they had the least.

"Out of the box, these scores are not encouraging," said Kolodge. "As automakers head down the developmental road to self-driving vehicles and greater electrification, it's important to know if consumers are on the same road – and headed in the same direction. That doesn't seem to be the case right now. Manufacturers need to learn where consumers are in terms of comprehending and accepting new mobility technologies and what needs to be done."

Clearly, there are a lot of issues. Experts think autonomous cars are off in the distance, consumers think they're even further away, and consumers know absolutely nothing about the vehicles. Autonomous technology, according to experts, is proving to be more difficult than anticipated to perfect, too. Automakers and technology companies certainly have their work cut out for them.

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