Cars manufacturers are now seriously working to make self driving car a widespread reality in the next decade. Yet making it widespread requires more than foolproof technology. It requires acceptance by the market, that is… us!
Studies are ongoing to evaluate the acceptability of being driven, rather than be at the wheel. MIT has an ongoing study, in cooperation with the New England Motor Press Association, and has published its second report in Spring 2017. It shows that very few people are willing/interested in buying a car that takes over the driving completely and a significant portion (48%) declares they would never buy a self-driving car. Interestingly, the number of people who would accept a car that always drives itself has decreased from 24% in 2016 to 13% in 2017. It would seem people are not getting used at the idea!
Now Ford and Domino (pizza!!!) are teaming up to experiment the acceptability by customer of autonomous delivery of pizza, using a self driving car. In the experiment, run in Ann Arbor, Mich, Domino’s customers can opt in to have their pizza delivered by a self driving car (if one is available). If they elect to do that, and a car is available, they are given a code to open the delivery box on the car and can follow the approaching car through an app on their smart phone.
Just by recording the number of customers that are ready to accept this new type of delivery provides some interesting information on the acceptability. Here the issue is completely different form the acceptability of a car replacing you, as driver, but involves the trust a customer can have on an autonomous delivery.
Clearly it is a quite expensive experiment and given the cost of today’s self driving car it is unlikely that it would be economically sustainable in the near term.