Autonomous Cars in 2018: The Future Will Be Humanized

The autonomous vehicle revolution isn’t coming. It’s here. And let’s face it. We’re all concerned.

C Space

If you grew up in the 1980s, you’ve probably heard of the TV show Knight Rider. If not, here’s a quick summary: David Hasselhoff plays a crime-fighting LA police detective that drives around saving the day in a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am. Except this isn’t any run-of-the-mill ’82 Pontiac. Embedded within it is KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand) – an artificially intelligent supercomputer that enables the car to act as a normal human would.

The Hoff had a peculiar, but often hilarious bond with KITT. To fans watching at home, KITT represented the first truly emotional and emotive car-human relationship. To the world, Knight Rider was the progeny of autonomous cars. To the automotive industry, this was only the beginning.

More than ever we are constantly reminded about the concept of driverless technology. Every other day we hear about Elon Musk waxing lyrical about the automotive revolution. Whether or not we like it – it’s here. Will it come in a whisper, or in a bang? It’s hard to tell at this stage. But there’s one thing we can tell: if 2017 is the year of autonomous cars, 2018 is going to be the year of how consumers feel about them.

And that’s what we, along with four other Omnicom agencies, discovered in our recent Altermotiv report. Contrary to what the industry thinks, consumers aren’t aligned with the thinking of most car brands. They believe that today’s car manufacturers will not be in the future driver’s seat. Traditional manufacturers are falling behind in the race to inherit the future of mobility. And they need to act on this now.

We hosted an Altermotiv event in London to try and gauge the public’s concerns and questions about autonomous technology. Unsurprisingly, they confirmed everything we discussed in our report.

What do people worry about the most? What were their thoughts on the automotive industry leaders? Here are some of the key questions and concerns they shared at the event:

Safety on the road and security online

It can be scary giving up control and putting your life in the hands of someone else – especially when that “person” is a computer program. The key question in many people’s minds is how much of our privacy and our security are we giving up in exchange for greater convenience?

Here are some of the fears people had about driverless vehicle safety:

How much control would I have?
Would the autonomous car know what to do in the event of an accident?
How will Big Data play into this? What will manufacturers use with my data?
How easy is it to hack into a car’s operating system?
Luxury for some but not all
As much as people love and talk about the latest electric car start-up, how many people do you know that actually own one? If there’s one thing we do know about the future of mobility, it won’t come without a price tag. People fear that this will create a new dependency that could create a deeper gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Here’s what people said about the fear of exclusivity:

If more expensive car manufacturers make better cars, then will poorer people be priced out?
Will a more expensive autonomous car provide a more comfortable experience?
Will autonomous cars end up being like phones? Will our choice reflect our social standing?
Will it be disguised as humanity?
In Knight Rider, when KITT was dropped in a vat of acid and “died,” it was just as dramatic and emotional for the audience as if he was a human. (Don’t worry; he was rebuilt in a later episode.) This passionate response leads one to ask: will a car feel like a member of the family or like a robotic stranger in the driver’s seat?

Here’s what people said about the concerns of an autonomous vehicle’s human-ness:

Would it have the emotional nuances of a real person? Could it talk back?
Can it be personalised?
Can I honestly trust a robot more than a human?

Perhaps car brands can’t blame Knight Rider for shaping the zeitgeist behind how we see autonomous vehicles. Perhaps only human nature is to blame. Either way, it’s clear that car manufacturers need to act with an emotionally driven approach to automation. If they want to build the next customer-centric car, rather than thinking for their customer (as they have traditionally done), they need to let their customers do the thinking instead.

Download our Altermotiv report here: https://www.altermotiv.com/get-research/

You may be interested in:

Beth Comstock: An Outsider Inside

Beth Comstock: An Outsider Inside Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: As Beth Comstock sees it, most companies simply aren’t ready for the massive change happening in the world. After nearly three decades in senior leadership roles at GE and NBC...

Is Optimism Dead?

Is Optimism Dead? As we approach 2020, the future feels less certain than ever for customers. So that’s why we’ve launched Life as a Customer, a window into the worlds of 700 customers, powered by C Space. We share our first findings in this article......

Hunting For Black Swans

Hunting for Black Swans How do you prepare for the unexpected? Oftentimes, you can't. But anybody can become hardy when they're faced with enough unknowns. Having faced frequent client challenges, Lucy Handley, Head of CORE at C Space London, offers her 3...

The Fear of Driving and the Future of Not

The Fear of Driving and the Future of Not For those who find driving a stressful experience, the concept of autonomous vehicles looks promising. But the mobility sector hasn't quite cracked the issue of trust. What can the auto industry do to build this...

Customer Experience Lessons Retailers Can Learn From the World’s Best Companies

Customer Experience Lessons Retailers Can Learn From the World’s Best Companies

by Rieva Lesonsky
Small Business Trends

How can your retail store deliver a best-in-class customer experience? Learn from the best, that’s how. Global customer agency C Space recently released its report on the best customer experiences of 2018, and retailers dominated the top companies on the list. Nine of the top 25 companies were retailers: Trader Joe’s, L.L. Bean, Nordstrom, Amazon, Costco, REI, Bath & Body Works, Sephora and Aldi.

Best Agency Above £20m and Best Place to Work: C Space

Best Agency Above £20m and Best Place to Work: C Space

by Katie McQuater
Research Live

At the 2018 MRS Research Live Awards, C Space was awarded Best Agency with a turnover above £20m and was also named Best Place to Work.

Rita Gunther McGrath: What’s Next for Strategy?

Rita Gunther McGrath: What’s Next for Strategy? Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Author and Columbia Business School Professor Rita Gunther McGrath is a world-renowned expert on strategy, innovation, and growth. Her work has been a beacon for companies...

The physical brand

The physical brand Our physical experience with a brand is the brand. In our digital world, physical is disruptive. Daniel Sills is the producer of Outside In, a podcast that explores changes in business and consumer behavior and...

What being the number one supermarket really means

What being the number one supermarket really means

by Richie Jones (C Space)
Research Live

After a week of retail results, C Space’s Richie Jones looks at the changing landscape for the supermarkets and how it’ll take more than mergers to keep Sainsbury’s on top.

Will they subscribe?

Will they subscribe? Is big business in denial about subscriptions? Charles Trevail, CEO of C Space and Interbrand, shares his thoughts on why subscriptions are all about selling relationships, not products. Charles Trevail is the...