A new survey covering the robotaxi sector might not help the thesis of future adoption of robotaxis.
What Happened: Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes robotaxis will be a future growth item for Tesla. Musk has long been a fan of self-driving capabilities and publicly supported the technology he argues could solve lives and provide other benefits for the future.
The recently released J.D. Power U.S. Robotaxi Experience Study reveals consumers might not be ready to embrace robotaxis, even in markets where they are currently legally tested.
The inaugural survey polled residents who live in areas of Phoenix, Arizona and San Francisco, California, where robotaxis can operate.
The survey found only 27% of robotaxi non-riders feel comfortable sharing the road with robotaxis. Only 20% of those surveyed are comfortable with robotaxis being tested on roads near them.
While many were skeptical of the future of robotaxis, the survey also showed those who have experienced a robotaxi are more likely to have increased support.
Of those surveyed who have ridden in a robotaxi, 47% said they gained trust in robotaxis after a ride. Fifty-one percent of survey respondents who trust robotaxis kept a high level of trust in the automobiles during their rides.
The survey also found that only 2% of people riding in robotaxis lost trust in the technology after a ride.
Of those who are skeptical of the technology, many like to hear from others first. The survey found that 81% of people wanted to hear about experiences from others before riding in a robotaxi.
“Automated vehicle technology is built on the promise of alleviating distracted driving, impaired driving and collisions attributed to human error,” J.D. Power senior director of user experience benchmarking and technology Kathleen Rizk said.
The survey found many people are using robotaxis related to having the ability to multi-task (25%), avoid parking (22%) or due to being under the influence (18%) rather than for normal trips and modes of transportation.
Factors listed as reasons not to use robotaxis by those surveyed included the small service areas, the cost to ride, accessibility for disabled passengers and customer support.
Another potential negative for the adoption of robotaxis was that 60% of those surveyed who have ridden in a robotaxi or interacted with one said they don’t think a robotaxi drives better than a human driver.
Why It’s Important: The results of the survey seem mixed at this point with many liking the service once they use it, but many being reluctant to try.
The survey results finding that cost, coverage area and support are limiting factors could also show that adoption won’t improve until these items become more important.
Waymo, a unit of Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG)(NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Cruise, a unit of General Motors Company (NYSE: GM), are among the companies testing robotaxi operations in markets such as Phoenix and San Francisco.
Tesla is also betting on the future of robotaxis, but has not rolled out tests like the other companies.
Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood recently told Zenger News that the future of robotaxis is a large portion of the valuation assigned to Tesla for the future. Ark Invest has a price target of $2,000 for Tesla.
“Tesla, because of its positioning with AI, it is the only auto company or tech company that has designed its own chip for autonomous driving,” Wood said.
Wood said Tesla should receive a valuation and metrics for technology companies rather than automotive companies.
“This is not an auto play. This is an autonomous taxi platform play with software-as-a-service like margins.”
Produced in association with Benzinga
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