Driverless cars are coming, despite consumer doubts, says OpenText
Driverless cars are coming whether consumers like it or not, OpenText

Driverless cars are coming, despite consumer doubts, says OpenText

Enterprise information management company OpenText has revealed the findings of a survey exploring consumer attitudes towards driverless cars.

Numerous companies are racing towards creating a driverless future for consumers. Comparably younger technology companies like Google and Apple have thrown their weight behind connecting vehicles to the internet. Ride-sharing and taxi service Uber has changed the way consumers approach mobility, and start-ups continue to trial everything from driverless boats to pod-like shuttles.

New competition means that traditional vehicle manufacturers are changing their entire business model as the technology evolves. Ford now calls itself a technology company, for example. But will the ‘build it and they will come’ approach work?

Figures produced by an OpenText survey of 2,000 consumers in the UK suggest there may be some reluctance, mingled with resignation. The findings show, for example, that two-thirds of consumers (66 percent) believe that driverless cars will be on the road within 15 years.

It’s important to note here that driverless cars are not the same as self-driving cars. Driverless cars have no driver – obviously – and in time, will have no steering wheel, either. In other words, there is no option to take control of the car manually, unlike in a self-driving car, and this is the cause of consumer concerns.

The survey shows that fears still remain when it comes to consumers actually getting in a car with no driver. Almost half of those who responded, 46 percent, said that they would not feel comfortable being a passenger in a driverless car. This would seem to suggest that the 66 percent previously mentioned are resigned to a future they don’t necessarily want.

Despite this major barrier, there are grounds for optimism. Ironically and somewhat confusingly, 42 percent of respondents feel that driverless car technology will actually improve road safety. This will be down to the ability of a driverless car to obey all of the traffic rules of the road where a human might not, according to 27 percent of respondents.

Read more: UK government pushes forward with driverless vehicles program

Is AI the antidote?

Shedding some light on the findings, Mark Bridger, vice president of sales for Northern Europe at OpenText, suggested that artificial intelligence might provide the cure to consumer fears.

“In this hyper-connected world, car companies need to ensure they are not only delivering the most innovative connected technology, but that this technology is also safe and reliable in order to install the level of trust needed for mass adoption,” he said. “AI will enable automakers to analyze, adapt, and suggest solutions based on data, bringing the world of driverless cars closer to reality.”

Nevertheless, it seems for now that the answer is still to build it first and worry about the outcome later. The likes of Amazon, Hyundai and Volkswagen have already begun the process of integrating AI and smart assistants into their driverless products in order to offer a more personalized user experience. AI-powered cars should also bring us closer to an accident-free future, but how will consumers get onboard?

“We are on the cusp of self-driving cars becoming a reality and, in the next couple of years, the automotive industry will be transformed beyond recognition,” Bridger said. “Driverless cars’ onboard sensors generate vast amount of data. As autonomous vehicles become more common, the data they produce will become a new, powerful asset for organizations.”

“The technological advances in AI will lead to a growing level of trust amongst British citizens when it comes to autonomous vehicles, particularly in regards to improving road safety. In order for this to be achieved, the automotive industry will need to manage and analyze their data sets to identify how the car is performing, and, more importantly, alert them to possible safety issues.”

Read more: AECOM launches £4.2 million driverless car trial