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New AAA Study Finds Names Of Self-Driving Features Has Impact On Drivers' Expectation Of System

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – What's in a name? A lot, according to new research on the technology in some of today's vehicles.

A number of new cars have some self-driving capabilities, all with different branding, from GM's Super Cruise to Nissan's ProPILOT Assist.

A new study from AAA finds those names can be important.

"The way in which a system is characterized, which includes the name, does have an important impact on drivers' expectation of the system," said William Horrey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

AAA had two different groups of volunteers operate the same car with the same driverless features.

For the first group, researchers gave the system the fictional name "AutonoDrive" and presented drivers with an upbeat assessment of its capabilities.

For the second group, researchers named the system "DriveAssist" and downplayed what it could do.

"What we found is some pretty profound differences between the two groups in terms of their understanding and expectations of the systems," Horrey said.

More people in the AutonoDrive group said they'd feel comfortable eating or using a cellphone, compared to the DriveAssist group.

The AutonoDrive users also had more confidence in the car's ability to take a tight curve or avoid a collision.

"They tended to think that the system was a lot more capable than it was, they expected it could perform in a lot of situations that, in fact, it couldn't," Horrey said.

He said automakers and dealers need to set realistic consumer expectations for these systems.

More importantly, drivers need to educate themselves on the technology's limitations.

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