Since COVID has impacted how we experience and interact with the world around us, activities like researching, reviewing, and buying vehicles have changed completely. Today, social media plays an active role in how automotive brands and technology influence the general public. One area of automotive technology that comes to mind when being influenced by social media is autonomous driving. After doing a little research, I found that autonomous technology still needs a greater level of trust; however, social media platforms are providing exposure to how it works and expanding awareness.
Trust in autonomous vehicles:
As mentioned, It’s still early in the game for autonomous vehicle technology to take off, but that’s because it all comes down to trust. Would you put your life in the “hands” of a vehicle that makes its own decisions? It’s a legitimate question, but there are categories where we tend to accept failures in technology like laptops, cellphones, and Wi-Fi. Yet, we are dependent on our cars, and they must provide a sense of safety and security that many of us are not willing to risk. There is a ton of technology that goes into creating a self-driving vehicle. Everything from environment mapping, surround-view cameras, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, pedestrian detection, etc… So the next step for automakers is to present this technology so that people trust it as much as they trust that their brakes will work. One way to create trust is through familiarity – making the vehicles behave more like humans. We need to experience the vehicle making sound decisions through challenging traffic situations. And the best way is to either get into an autonomous car yourself or experience it visually from someone you trust.
How TikTok can change the way:
This is where social media influences our trust in autonomous vehicles. An article by Mashable shares a few stories of TikTok influencers sharing videos of their interaction with autonomous vehicles in Arizona. One TikTok user posted a short video of using Weymo, the robo-taxi in Pheonix, and it racked up 1.9 million views. Since this success, they have continued to document their experience, everything from running errands in the minivan, making it out of a crowded Costco parking lot, and toting kids around town. Another TikTok emerging influencer shares similar videos of using Waymo but his videos hit 3.6 million views. One influencer went even further to document what happens if you get in the way of a moving Waymo. Needless to say, it stopped, and he is fine. However, these crazy bouts of exploring the boundaries of safety with autonomous vehicles could positively influence the decisions of others. These influencers are like new converts, spreading the word of self-driving cars, and the companies may stand to benefit from the publicity.
Social media is showing the upside to self-driving technology by sharing first-hand experiences. And we have to admit that this technology has some advantages, like the fact that sensors can detect cars in all directions where the human head can only rotate one direction at a time, increasing the amount of time needed to make a decision in response to traffic changes. However, it’s still early days for influencers to take over TikTok and create a nationwide impact.
- Stewart, Bill. Gross, Steve. “Achieving trust in autonomous vehicles requires trustworthy electronics” Automotive News, Automotive News, 23 April 2021, https://www.autonews.com/sponsored/achieving-trust-autonomous-vehicles-requires-trustworthy-electronics
- Lekach, Sasha. “Meet the autonomous driving influencers of TikTok” Mashable, Mashable Inc., 26 August 2021, https://mashable.com/article/autonomous-vehicle-tiktok-influencers