Millennials Are Up For Self-Driving Cars

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If you were born between 1982 and 1994, you’re probably a lot more comfortable with the idea of a self-driving vehicle than the average baby boomer. Do you even remember riding in a car or minivan on the 401 that didn’t have cruise control? Most Toronto and Mississauga millennials won’t. According to a recent survey by the American Automobile Association (AAA) a whopping 82% of boomers reported anxiety about the idea of riding in a fully autonomous car. Millennials, on the other hand, very likely grew up with a computer holding pride of place in their homes and schools; their comfort level with the idea of autonomous tech in an automobile is 31% in favour. Computers can and should be trusted, in other words, including the one guiding your (future) car.

On the gendered front, men are far more open to semi-autonomous technologies than women are, and the guys pretty much expect their next vehicle to offer adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking features and or self-parking mechanisms. Does that mean we can look forward to an even greater number of men who insist on backing into their parking spaces? (That’s a whole other topic for another day!) Women who were open to autonomous technologies saw the potential reduction of stress as a purchasing motivator, although 23% of women surveyed by the AAA also said these functions would be too complicated to use.   

Boomers, it seems, still want both hands on the wheel, especially 81% of women, who said they are not comfortable with the idea of a car driving itself with them in it. It stands to reason that if you’re used to semi-autonomous features in your current vehicle, you’ll be more open to increased autonomous technologies in your next. Whereas boomers want autonomous tech for safety reasons, millennials are all about the convenience factor and yes, having the latest technology matters, too. What could be better than a road trip guided by your fully connected crossover or SUV? As long as these extra features don’t jack up the price, millennials are all over self-driving cars and trucks. The environmentally friendly appeal of electric cars and autonomous functionality is also stronger for millennials—no real surprises there.  

And while opportunities to test-drive a fully autonomous car are still somewhat limited, we’re warming slightly as more and more vehicles feature some form of semi-autonomous function. Overall, lane assist technologies were perceived to be the most trustworthy, followed by adaptive cruise, emergency braking and finally, self-parking functions. If the stats are true and one in five Americans plan to purchase a car in the next year, it would serve us all well to educate ourselves about what these various forms of autonomous tech offer. After all, the more we use something, the more we come to expect it. Our comfort levels rise as we observe (and enjoy) the benefits of a given technology. The grandkids of millennials in Toronto and Mississauga will probably be heard asking, “Grandma, what’s a steering wheel?” much sooner than we think.   


Categories: News, Autonomous Vehicles, Automotive Technology