J.D. Power has released the findings from its inaugural U.S. Robotaxi Experience study, providing insights on consumer feedback regarding fully autonomous ridehailing services, including those provided by Cruise and Waymo. The study found that most consumers are not comfortable with the deployment and testing of robotaxis on local public roads. However, the study also found that robotaxi riders tend to have a positive experience with the service.
The new study was fielded in July of the 2023 calendar year, and is based on responses from 408 consumers in San Francisco and Phoenix, cities in which Cruise and Waymo have deployed autonomous vehicles for testing and service. To qualify for the study, respondents were required to have either taken a ride in a self-driving robotaxi, or have seen one. Participants were broken down into two groups, including riders and non-riders, respectively.
According to J.D. Power, 27 percent of non-riders are comfortable with sharing the road with robotaxis, while 20 percent of all consumers nationally report being comfortable with AV technology being tested on roads near them.
Among riders, however, 47 percent gained trust in the technology during a ride, while 51 percent maintained high trust levels in the tech. Just 2 percent of riders reportedly lost trust in robotaxi capability after a ride.
“Automated vehicle technology is built on the promise of alleviating distracted driving, impaired driving and collisions attributed to human error,” said senior director of user experience benchmarking and technology at J.D. Power, Kathleen Rizk. “However, the benefits result from consumer acceptance, which is why it’s imperative to ensure these first deployments are flawless – not only for the riders, but also especially for those who are not early adopters, including non-riders who are experiencing AVs in their community and those learning from a distance through social media and other news outlets.”
The study also found that some riders’ critical needs were not being met, including the cost to ride, service area coverage, accessibility for disabled passengers, and customer support during the ride, all of which are considered critical areas of improvement for the long-term acceptance of AVs. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of both riders and non-riders indicated that they do not think that robotaxis drive better than a human pilot.
GM recently announced that it was preparing to launch a fleet of Cruise autonomous vehicles in Japan in a new agreement with Honda.