TECH: Tesla Crash Backfires on Self-Driving Opponents

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Tesla Crash

It seems that Americans are only slightly less interested in actually riding in a self-driving vehicle in light of the widely reported Tesla crash. That may be good news for those individuals that oppose self-driving vehicles and the changes that they may bring to our society. What they may not like is that extensive media coverage of the crash has made more Americans than ever aware of this new technology.

In mid-July (2016), an online survey of 1,500 Americans discovered that, while interest in self-driving technology dropped approximately three-percent after news of the May 7, 2016 Tesla crash that included a fatality, awareness of the same increased by 10-percent. Six weeks earlier, a similar survey had overall U.S. consumer awareness at 71 to 76-percent and the latest survey (released Friday July 30, 2016) has it somewhere between 81 and 85-percent.

Tesla Model XThe latest survey, conducted by Alix Partners, also found that many consumers are willing to put their trust in Silicon Valley firms like Tesla Motors, Google, Apple, and Advanced Micro Devices, over traditional automakers when it comes to advancing this innovative new technology.

Another survey, conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), said that public opinion about self-driving vehicles has not changed significantly in the face of the Tesla tragedy. This survey was conducted among more than 1,500 citizens in the United States, Germany, and China. According to BCG, when asked about riding in partly and fully automated vehicles, about 41-percent of Germans and 48-percent of Americans were willing to climb on-board. These recent survey numbers are down slightly from a similar survey conducted in August 2015. On the other hand, Chinese participants were much more willing to try the new technology first-hand – to the tune of 81-percent – compared to the 75-percent reported about a year ago.

In a related survey, conducted recently by BCG in conjunction with the World Economic Forum, it was reported that the impact of the widespread use of self-driving vehicles (including fully automated robo-taxis) could result in a 60-percent decrease in the total number of vehicles on city streets, a drop of 80-percent in vehicle emissions, and a 90-percent decline in traffic accidents.

When combined with the expected influx in electric vehicles, along with recent trends in ride  sharing and car sharing, the potential benefits of self-driving vehicles could be staggering.

S.M. Darby

S.M. Darby

I am a freelance author with over 25 years of experience as a professional, ASE certified automotive technician and shop owner, muscle car enthusiast, avid street racer, and classic car restoration specialist.