VIDEO: Can LeBron James Convince You to Like Autonomous Cars?

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We have autonomous technology in our cars, but there are no cars for sale just yet that allow you to sit in the back seat and snooze while the car does all the work. The technology needs further testing and the government needs to give its approval first, but there is a bigger obstacle. People are afraid of autonomous cars, but LeBron James is here to change your mind.

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There’s a huge trust issue when new technologies are introduced. It doesn’t matter if it’s a phone or a watch or a car. People are leery of new things and can easily imagine scenarios where they won’t work as advertised. If it’s your phone that locks up, then it’s an inconvenience. If it’s your car that gets confused and drives into a tree, then you could be hurt. That’s why autonomous cars need their own ad campaign.

That campaign kicked off Monday with a spot featuring basketball star LeBron James warily hopping into the back seat of an autonomous car. His fear of the unknown quickly turns to acceptance and the folks behind the campaign hope this ad will help the public accept the idea, too.

Rather than an automaker being the money behind these ads, it’s tech giant Intel that’s trying to get the public on board with autonomous technologies. Intel has been expanding its focus on driverless tech so it needs to have the public ready to buy once they’re ready for sale.

What’s especially unique about this campaign is that it’s trying to sell us all on something we can’t even buy today. Sure, you can get a car with select autonomous features, but you can’t get one at any price that lets you cede the responsibility for driving entirely.

When can we buy autonomous cars? Experts will tell you everything from a few years to decades, which really means no one knows for sure. Even if you’re so drawn in by LeBron’s excitement that you want to wait, it might be a long while before this tech is ready.

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It shows just how much of a problem it is to get the public to accept autonomous vehicles. Intel is working on the publicity problem years in advance of when the tech will actually be on the road in hopes we’ll be okay with it when it does arrive.

An ad campaign with a celebrity athlete is all well and good, but what the public needs to see are more stories of autonomous tech working correctly rather than instances where it fails. Once the product works and proves that it works, then Intel won’t need basketball stars to convince us.

Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin