Three-quarters (78%) of Americans are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle. According to the survey, they explain that by trusting themselves more than the technology, feeling the new car advances are too new and unproven, that it is also annoying and last, but not the least- not willing to pay extra for it.
How can we transition smoothly to self-driving cars?
Overcome Phycological Challenges
Latest research indicates that ethical dilemmas, overreactions to accidents, and the opacity of the cars’ decision-making algorithms can delay the adoption of self-driving cars. Nobody wants to buy a car that would sacrifice passengers to save pedestrians lives.
The role of media is not always helping as the video of accidents go viral, showing how unreliable can be the new technology.
In order to help, more transparency and familiarity with highly automated car technologies can help customers to change their mental models and build trust. Early adopters would have this as an opportunity to show off responsibility and commitment to reduce total number of road accidents. You can test your mental model in the MIT Moral Machine website.
Start with driving assistants
Self-driving cars promise many benefits. However, it will take many years to reach the masses. As today, new car buyers can enjoy from $20K active automobile safety features such as collision avoidance or lane keeping assist. You won’t be able to watch a movie while in a traffic jam, but they will prevent up to 40% of the rear-end car crashes according to a Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report.
Still, only half of car models include those features as standard. Customers have to make the hard decision to add them for at least $1K at the risk of turning them off later if they don’t like. Notice that not everyone is yet comfortable with a car computer controlling the break and steering wheel. And that makes drivers more likely to adopt only-alert type of driving assistance features like forward collision or lane departure warning.
The good news for driver assistance technologies that doesn’t require intervention, is that can also be integrated in old cars. This is a great motivation for software and consumer electronics startups that can now target to a billion car market operating without any type of driving assistant technology.
Excellent Driving Experience (DX)
Noisy driver assistance is a big complain. While useful at the beginning, it become annoying over time, to the point you end up switching it off permanently (an IIHS study found that two-thirds of drivers turned off the lane departure warning). Designers has the challenging job to create enjoable and safety driving experiences in an environment where the number of software features will increasing rapidly.
Like other mobile apps personalize our experience based on our usage, we may expect very soon our car to sense what route I’m taking, if I’m driving sleepy, or with other passengers and set alerts accordingly so it doesn’t bother and keep me aware.
If we want those feature become more a life-saver than annoying ‘turn signal nanny’, as designers we need understand drivers mood and behavior, and provide a balanced flexibility and warnings for the technology to become a trusted buddy driver.