Gen Y and Z more open to Self-Driving Technology

Let’s face it – most of us tend to become Luddites as we age, and the younger generations are generally more ready to trust and adopt new technologies. So, it’s no surprise to us that a recent study by JD Power found that while more than half of younger drivers would trust self-driving cars, only less than a quarter of Baby Boomers and even fewer Pre-Boomers do.

The 2016 US Tech Choice Study categorises the generations as such: Pre-Boomers, born before 1946; Baby Boomers, born 1946 – 1964; Gen X, born 1965 – 1976; Gen Y, born 1977 – 1994 and Gen Z, born 1995 to 2000. A pool of 7,900 consumers were involved in the survey.

56% of Gen Y and 55% of Gen Z respondents said they would trust self-driving technology, whereas only 41% of Gen X, 23% of Baby Boomers and only 18% of Pre-Boomers concur. For proponents and makers of autonomous vehicles – such as the likes of Google, Apple, General Motors, Ford and Toyota – gaining the trust of older drivers would be a significant hurdle to overcome if they are to engender mass adoption of their autonomous technologies. Meanwhile, it might be wise, business-wise, to start by incorporating autonomous features in vehicles aimed toward younger drivers, rather than focusing them in higher-end, luxury vehicles.

The trend is similar in other automotive technologies and alternative modes of transportation. Take Uber, for instance. According to data by GlobalWebIndex, the most enthusiastic users of Uber are of ages 16 to 34, while only a small minority comes from the 45 to 64 age group.

According to Kristin Kolodge, an Executive director from JD Power, “Acceptance can be increased with exposure over time and experience with automated technologies. But trust is fragile and can be broken if there is an excessive number of incidents with automated vehicles.” Now, Kolodge probably did not intend for her statement to be interpreted this way, but we infer that it is better to use younger drivers as guinea pigs for any new autonomous technology because they would be more forgiving toward any screw-ups.

There are some autonomous features that were desirable by most drivers, though, such as camera-connected rearview mirrors, night vision, smart headlights and self-healing paint, of which at least 63% of respondents were keen on.

However, there is one concern that is shared across all generations – security; all potential passengers of self-driving cars are worried that the system could crash, be hacked or hijacked and caused to crash; valid concerns, we think, especially after Wired magazine ran a test in which hackers quite easily hacked into a Jeep while the vehicle was on the highway, with one of its writers in it, and killed the engine. Watch the video here:

Still, with any technological advancement, in any field, there will be risks, but rather than be afraid of it, we should work to mitigate it and move forward. Although the prospect of someone seated in front of a laptop miles and miles away taking over the car we are in is quite alarming, we’ll be damned if we ever become or are called Luddites.

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