What they’re saying about autonomous technology

Published in Autonomous News
Web Link: http://www.autonews.com/article/20160911/OEM06/309129989/what-theyre-saying-aboutautonomous-technology

In the aftermath of the crash, consumers remain optimistic that autonomous drive is the “next big thing in the auto space,” a study shows.

MavenMagnet, a social data research company with offices in New York and Mumbai, India, conducted this study.

The study analyzed 3,081 conversations from Jan. 1 to Aug. 15. The conversations were evenly distributed before and after news of the fatal crash of a Tesla using Autopilot became public on July 30.

MavenMagnet analyzes data from all digital sources — including social networks, communities, forums, chat rooms and product reviews — to provide insights about U.S. attitudes toward emerging and rapidly evolving topics such as autonomous vehicles. Its work for corporate clients has included analysis of more than 40 vehicle nameplates.

Perhaps predictably, online conversations about autonomous vehicles turned markedly negative this summer after a fatal crash involving the driver of a Tesla Model S operated in Autopilot mode.

What’s less predictable — and more encouraging to developers of self-driving vehicles — is that consumers remain optimistic that autonomous drive is the “next big thing in the auto space,” according to a new study done for Automotive News.

MavenMagnet, a social data research company that combs through online discussions, noted the changing attitudes by comparing comments before and after the Tesla accident became news on July 30.

The study sifted through thousands of conversations. It analyzed U.S. consumers, trying to sort out their attitudes toward a disruptive technology with positive and negative possibilities.

“It was not a surprise that safety was a big concern and became a bigger concern,” said Aditya Ghuwalewala, MavenMagnet founder. “What was more surprising was that even after the accident, there was optimism that this was the next big thing.”

Ghuwalewala added that people posting opinions online split over the responsibilities of human drivers and autonomous technology.

“It’s a very engaging topic, from the look of the conversations,” he said.

Another division was between consumers who want to keep driving themselves — except in traffic jams – – and those who apparently can’t wait until they can nap, text or watch a movie while being transported autonomously.

Cleve Langton, MavenMagnet president, said that reflects “the tedium of driving vs. the pleasure of driving: “Oh my God, I face this commute every morning, and if I could just zone out, that would be great.’ And then there’s the visceral satisfaction of driving.”

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