The autonomous future is almost upon us. With automakers making stronger pushes to debut self-driving tech and even tech companies pushing their own autonomous technology, it seems that we’re almost at the tipping point. BMW is one of the main automakers pushing for full autonomy in the near future, with a goal of 2021. Audi is the first company to debut Level 3 Autonomy in its new A8. And Tesla has famously been using its Autopilot system.
“The technology is moving quickly, and different types of vehicles are going to start coming out next year,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich told Car and Driver. “Either it will be driverless taxis on relatively fixed routes, like we’ve talked about [doing] with Waymo next year, or we’ll have cars with on-ramp-to-off-ramp capability. The idea is to get people interested and to understand that it is safe.”
But the problem isn’t developing the new tech, which most companies seem to be able to do. The problem is selling it. Customers just don’t trust self-driving cars at the moment. It’s not hard to see why, either, as it’s a very unproven technology and it literally takes control away from drivers who are so used to having it. So it’s understandable to be weary of autonomous cars. Which is why companies like Intel are trying to advertise their capabilities with celebrities, to show customers people they know trusting the tech.
I’m sure you’ve seen the commercial with LeBron James, where he gets into the back of a KIA K900 (though, it’s de-badged) that uses Intel’s autonomous driving tech. In the commercial, he’s skeptical at first, not wanting to get into a car without a driver. Though, he gets in and is soon impressed. At the end of the ad, he says something along the lines of “I’m keepin’ this!”.
These sorts of ads are trying to show the public that the tech is safe and that it’s actually more helpful at preventing accidents and deaths than it is hurtful. According to Krzanich, the idea is to get to a point when “society and governments do not focus on the 40 deaths that could still occur but focus on the 39,960 deaths that we’ve prevented and eliminated from the system.”
So ads featuring well-known, loved celebrities are using these systems is a way to try and gain the public’s trust.