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:

Eric Allison, Uber Elevate: Flying Taxis and the Future of Mobility

Eric Allison, Uber Elevate: Flying Taxis and the Future of Mobility Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Our cultural obsession with flying cars has been well-documented: the 1927 film Metropolis, the 1960s cartoon The Jetsons, the 1980s Back to the Future...

Bernie Banks: Leadership is Influence

Bernie Banks: Leadership is Influence Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Leadership is not a role. It’s a process. A process of exercising influence in order to bring about a desired outcome. So says Bernie Banks. He’s the Associate Dean for Leadership...

Decoding a Viable Metric for Measuring Customer Loyalty in Travel

Decoding a Viable Metric for Measuring Customer Loyalty in Travel

by Christina Stahlkopf (C Space)
Skift

Loyal customers may love your product and service, but the goal is to get them to spread the word. Christina Stahlkopf explains everything you need to know about Net Promoter Score and how to retain, grow, and convert brand advocates.

A New Start

A New Start The traditional agency model has been around for years. But things are changing fast. Are you ready to rethink the way you collaborate? Richie Jones is C Space’s Director of Partnerships. With over 15 years’ experience in...

We All Need Friends

We All Need Friends Relationships are the most important things we have – and that’s just as true for a brand as a friend. Here’s how we can make one into the other Christina Stahlkopf is an Associate Director in C Space’s Boston...

David Weinberger: The Upside of Chaos

David Weinberger: The Upside of Chaos Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: The Cluetrain Manifesto, published at the turn of 21st century, was one of the most prophetic and important books written about the internet. It was a call to arms -- and a warning...

Thomas Buberl, CEO, AXA: Responding to Risks in a Volatile World

Thomas Buberl, CEO, AXA: Responding to Risks in a Volatile World Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: All around us, risk is increasing along with growing instability and volatility. Cyber crime, climate change, and social division are just some of the...

Who’s In Charge?

Who's In Charge? Most CEOs would claim to be steering their business, but the smart ones are starting to realize that it’s the customers who are really setting the direction. Jessica DeVlieger is the President of C Space Americas. In...

Todd Unger, Chief Experience Officer, AMA: Engaging Physicians in a Digital Age

Todd Unger, Chief Experience Officer, AMA: Engaging Physicians in a Digital Age Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Founded in 1847, the American Medical Association has a long history of advocating for physicians and advancing medicine in the United...

The Right Insight

The Right Insight What makes a successful customer insights leader? Here’s a guide to the challenges and strategies of some of the best in the business. Robert Howie is Managing Director of growth at C Space, and previously led the...