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PwC Survey Reveals What People Really Think About Autonomous Cars

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【Summary】The group, which surveyed 1,584 US-based residents aged 16 and older for the report, focused on people’s attitude towards the future of transportation.

Original Michael Cheng    Dec 30, 2016 6:32 AM PT
PwC Survey Reveals What People Really Think About Autonomous Cars

For most people outside of the autonomous car sector, the idea of self-driving fleets is daunting. That's because there is currently a lack of awareness programs designed to educate individuals about how the technology works. But due to coverage from the media and growing interest in seeing a car drive itself on public roads, people are slowing coming around to welcoming some form of driverless technology (for example, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems [ADAS]) in their lives. 

A timely survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers, a high-caliber consulting firm with international reach, shines light on this sudden shift of acceptance. The group, which surveyed 1,584 US-based residents aged 16 and older for the report, focused on people's attitude towards the future of transportation. Perhaps the most ground-breaking takeaway from the survey is that over 66 percent of respondents now believe that autonomous cars are smarter than human drivers.

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Emergency-related Technologies

PwC's report found that most respondents were interested in safety-related, autonomous technology. This includes robust sensors that detect distances between the car and an outside object or surface, smart engine maintenance notifications and mobile integration with in-car entertainment platforms. The proliferation of this trend is not surprising, as a large bulk of new features being developed by automakers are related to emergency functionalities. By comparison, cost and efficiency of LIDAR components on self-driving vehicles did not receive much attention from survey participants, despite being crucial parts of autonomous systems.

"By 2022, autonomous packages will have the largest incremental impact on new car sales — about $54.9 billion, up 31% annually from 2017," mentioned one of the authors of the PwC report. "And while safety packages will generate $58.2 billion in 2022, an average annual growth rate of 27%, most of this value will be integrated into list prices and eventually integrated into autonomous packages."

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Phasing Out Traditional Taxi Services

When discussing driverless technology, it is difficult not to bring up ride-sharing and car-sharing programs. In the future, next-generation automakers intend to power commercial transportation vessels with self-driving cars. By decreasing reliance on human drivers, such businesses could cut operational costs, boost service productivity and reduce human-error related accidents.

The PwC survey uncovered that adoption of ride-sharing services are still on the rise with up to 37 percent of respondents admitting to hailing a vehicle participating in such programs for commuting. Interestingly, 55 percent of individuals who have never tried ride-sharing are open to the idea of trying it out. When it comes to car-sharing, it seems that younger age groups are quick to integrate the service with their daily routine, with 41 percent citing that they have used such services before. By comparison, only 10 percent of people aged 50 and over actively take part in car-sharing programs.

"Gen X and Gen Y, which covered ages 21 through 49 in this study, were the most likely to be enthusiasts who were interested in all the new automotive technology. People older than 50 and younger than 20 were less interested in any automotive tech at all," said Kristen Hall-Geisler from TechCrunch.

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