Chaiwoo Lee Discusses Findings of Annual Survey on Autonomous Vehicles

by Adam Felts

Advanced vehicle technologies are increasingly available in consumer vehicles, and the prospect of autonomous cars on public roads in the near future continues to be hinted at by automakers. Understanding how consumers are responding to these developments may help to guide the development of communications and education about new vehicle technologies.

Chaiwoo Lee participated in a panel discussion on the results of this year’s Mobility Confidence Index study, an annual survey of consumers’ attitudes, knowledge, and beliefs about advanced vehicle technologies and autonomous cars. The study is conducted in collaboration between the AgeLab’s Advanced Vehicle Technology (AVT) Consortium, J.D. Power, and Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE). Dr. Lee joined with J.D. Power’s Lisa Boor to discuss findings and implications of the 2022 survey.

Drawing on the survey findings, Dr. Lee noted some challenges for consumer education that were also apparent in the survey’s prior iterations. For one, she said, there was a noticeable gap between actual and self-rated knowledge of autonomous vehicles among survey respondents. Only 35% of the sample chose the correct technical description of what ‘self-driving’ encompasses when asked to select a definition of the technology. While a small portion of the sample self-rated having a great deal of knowledge, even among those who did believe that they knew a lot, the majority selected incorrect definitions.

Dr. Lee also highlighted a widespread misunderstanding of self-driving availability, with 17 percent of respondents believing that fully automated self-driving vehicles are already available for purchase and an additional 50 percent believing that they will be available in the consumer market within the next four years.

These gaps in consumer knowledge may be attributable to overly optimistic media and automotive industry reports about the future availability of self-driving cars, as well as confusing labeling of some current advanced driver assistance technologies. Dr. Lee suggested the need for more consistent messaging and descriptions of autonomous cars, and more sophisticated forms of consumer education, including interactive media and the use of more diverse channels to deliver information and education.

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About the Author

Photo of Adam Felts
Adam Felts

Adam Felts is a researcher and writer at the MIT AgeLab. Currently he is involved in research on the experiences of family caregivers and the future of financial advice. He also manages the AgeLab blog and newsletter. He received his Master's in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University in 2014 and his Master's of Theological Studies from Boston University in 2019.

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