Waymo is working with a number of organizations on a new self-driving education campaign to help answer questions the public has about autonomous vehicles and technology. The program is designed to provide easily accessible info that offers answers to questions including “are self-driving cars safe?” and “how do they know what to do?” and it includes participation from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Safety Council, the Foundation for Blind Children, the East Valley Partnership and the Foundation for Senior Living.
The new campaign, called “Let’s Talk Self Driving” will include both digital and outdoor advertising, with an initial focus on Arizona, where Waymo is currently testing its autonomous ride hailing service in a limited pilot. The plan is to eventually expand this into a national program, with exposure to Waymo’s self-driving tech for the general public a key aspiration for its expansion.
Waymo’s partners in this program might be the most indicative of how it hopes to drive acceptance of autonomous vehicles among members of the public who might be skeptical about sharing the roads with self-driving cars. MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church notes in a statement that self-driving could “completely eliminate drunk driving and other causes of traffic deaths,” while the NSC says that “automation holds incredible promise” but that “Americans will need to understand what self-driving vehicles can and can’t do.”
Both the Foundation for Blind Children and the Foundation for Senior Living focus on the message of how autonomous driving could increase independence and mobility for populations for which that’s currently a challenge, and the East Valley Partnership adds in support for the potential of autonomy to decrease congestion and unlock more productive time.
Waymo basically couldn’t have asked for better partners in this initiative, in terms of outlining the potential public benefit of rolling out autonomous vehicles nationwide. Public acceptance, which will have a tremendous effect on regulatory concerns, will be as important as technology in bringing self-driving vehicles to consumers, so this campaign is likely to be one of many attempts to move the needle on general awareness.