Automakers may be hyping self-driving cars, report warns

American Automobile Association warns automakers against focusing on marketing the vehicle’s capabilities over prioritising passenger safety.

Updated - September 11, 2020 08:24 pm IST

Published - September 11, 2020 08:16 pm IST

Even self-driving cars require minimal human interference and automakers may be unknowingly ignoring it.

Even self-driving cars require minimal human interference and automakers may be unknowingly ignoring it.

Automakers may be hyping the capabilities of self-driving vehicles through marketing campaigns.

Marketing of auto-driving cars stress on convenience and capabilities, instead of its limitations and safety measures, which can inflate expectations of what the system is capable of handling, a report by American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA) said.

This may lead to overconfidence and misunderstanding as drivers eliminate the need to pay attention on the road, leading to dangerous scenarios, the report stated.

AAA had a group of volunteers test a car. Half the group was told the car was 'AutonoDrive' with self-driving features. The other half was told the car was 'DriveAssist', meaning the car could assist in seamless driving.

People in the first group were more confident about eating and using their phone while commuting, signifying how branding impacted the user's expectations.

Motorists using active driving assistance systems, which combine vehicle acceleration with braking and steering, tend to overlook safety limitations when the branding and marketing used to sell it suggest an 'automated' driving experience. Every auto-driving vehicle requires some amount of human interference.

In the survey conducted by AAA, 40% respondents said they expect active driving assistance systems, with names like Autopilot and ProPILOT, to have the ability to drive the car by itself.

There must be an emphasis on driver engagement and understanding the limitations of these technologies. Car dealers have a responsibility to educate car buyers on these technologies, but not to oversell a vehicle’s bells and whistles, the automobile-governing body said.

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