Will Car Buffs Ever Accept Autonomous Cars?

SITUATION:
For many Amer­i­can car dri­vers (and car buffs), espe­cial­ly males in the Baby Boomer and Gen X cat­e­gories, the dri­ving expe­ri­ence could be summed up by a few themes – Man­i­fest Des­tiny, Route 66, and Vegas, Baby, Vegas!

As robot­ic cars become an immi­nent pos­si­bil­i­ty – autonomous cars by 2020 and semi-autonomous cars much soon­er – there are some big ques­tions out there about how well this tech­nol­o­gy will be embraced by car buffs who love per­for­mance, style, and free­dom behind the wheel

There’s also the ques­tion of how much it will cost – a tech­nol­o­gy upgrade this big is bound to spike up stick­er prices.

A JD Pow­er and Asso­ciates sur­vey from last year found 37% of dri­vers inter­est­ed in dri­ver­less cars, but inter­est lev­el dropped to 20% if it adds $3K to price of car.

Big issue is peri­od of tran­si­tion to autonomous cars – will have to cul­ti­vate buy­ers who will be com­fort­able sit­ting in dri­ver­less car, says Jim Hall, man­ag­ing direc­tor of 2953 Ana­lyt­ics at Auto­mo­tive Press Asso­ci­a­tion.

SIGNIFICANCE:
There’s also a list of unan­swered legal and insur­ance ques­tions in this age of lit­i­ga­tion and reg­u­la­tion – fol­low­ing a fatal crash, who gets the blame?

What­ev­er the impli­ca­tions, automak­ers are head­ing full speed in this direc­tion – adap­tive cruise con­trol, lane-depar­ture warn­ing sys­tems, and auto­mat­ed par­al­lel park­ing are vivid exam­ples of this tran­si­tion­al tech­nol­o­gy.

We’re actu­al­ly already half the way there – first cars that had brake inter­ven­tion was bell­wether moment for autonomous cars, Hall said.

One of the keys for cus­tomer accep­tance would be to make it easy to turn autonomous func­tions on and off, mak­ing sure the dri­ver has con­trol.

Hall thinks autonomous cars should first be adopt­ed by taxis and rental cars, espe­cial­ly in large, crowd­ed cities where short­cuts could be found

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