ADAS Features Still Leave Consumers Nervous

Even as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving technology gain traction among automakers, consumers and drivers are still concerned about their safety, according to a recent report from Strategy Analytics.

The survey of vehicle owners in the US, western Europe and China found consumer interest in park assist remains modest, and many consumers revealed they would avoid any autonomous driving feature.

The study also revealed among the consumers who would avoid an autonomous feature, a large percentage of consumers in all markets report that they do not yet trust the technology.

The July 26 report, which is based on interviews with 4,640 consumers, indicated interest in various ADAS features has started to fracture, with consumers providing feedback that indicates not all autonomous features are equal. This follows on from earlier research by online marketplace, Shift.

Derek Viita, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics and author of the report, pointed out that the research found that owners of vehicles from Daimler, BMW and Nissan tended to report the greatest amount of satisfaction overall with respect to their ADAS features.

He explained that, going forward, intuitive cockpit interfaces would be a crucial aspect for the future success of advanced safety systems and automated driving and parking features.

“All of these features must have controls that are plainly easy to use and displays that are easy to comprehend, providing information about what is the system controlling and what the driver is controlling,” he said.

For example, he said he thinks reliance on tiny icons or confusing text-heavy alerts is not what consumers are looking for in these vehicles.

“These are especially odd to still see in the car, considering that we now have large programmable cluster and console displays which allow for a great amount of flexibility in design,” Viita explained.

The survey also found large swaths of consumers in the US and western Europe said they would never trust self-driving technology.

“Consumer interest needs to widen beyond younger tech-savvy early adopters and the premium segment,” Viita said. “Right now we still have a large segment of consumers who are actively avoiding autonomous features.”

He explained automakers and mobility service providers are going to need to figure out a way to get some of that segment on board with autonomous vehicle technology, in addition to getting each of them to take their first ride in automated transport.

“The public sector and insurance industry also need to catch up, ” he said. “Right now laws and regulations are all over the place with respect to how AVs are treated on the road. Some alignment needs to happen. And if industry doesn’t do it themselves, it will be done for them, probably after an adverse event of some kind.”

Viita’s sentiments on the insurance industry were echoed in a white paper issued earlier this month by the Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies.

While research indicates AV technology will lead to fewer accidents, the growing possibility of more self-driving vehicles on the road is raising complicated questions around insurance liability questions and how best to develop policy frameworks.

The paper argues any legal and regulatory structure concerning AVs must include insurance-specific components, including standardizing data governance and cybersecurity requirements.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter.

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