For now, the general public find self-driving cars sketchy—something that’ll likely only be alleviated by getting consumers more familiar with the technology. Intel, which has made huge inroads in the industry this year, is leaning on NBA superstar LeBron James to boost awareness of robotaxis, as part of a new broadcast and digital ad campaigin that’s rolling out next week, according to The Verge.
No car on the market today offers fully-autonomous tech—which, really, that should be stressed!—but the 30-second clip offers a glimpse of the first kind of scenario that self-driving car developers envision for consumers: a driverless taxi picking you up for a ride across town. Expectedly, James looks freaked out by the situation, but nonetheless hops inside.
Here’s more from The Verge:
The interesting thing about this campaign is who’s paying for it. Not Waymo, the Alphabet unit that is seen as having the best technology, or Uber, the ride-hail service through which many people will probably experience their first self-driving car. The ads are produced by Intel, the international chipmaker that is increasingly expanding its focus on autonomous technology.
Intel thinks it is best positioned to overcome consumer apprehension toward driverless cars, and what better way to do that than to make LeBron James the smiling, bearded face of its public effort. “Some people are fearless,” the narrator of the TV spot says, as James walks toward the camera. But when his car arrives sans driver, James gives a perfunctory, “Nope.” Told that the vehicle’s sensors allow it to “see 80 times better than you,” he acquiesces, and eventually comes to the scripted conclusion: “Hey yo, I’m keeping this.”
A number of surveys show that most consumers like the idea of robotcars, but they’re freaked out by them—from hacking to the sheer idea of a car controlling itself. But public awareness can only be raised by showing people how new tech works, and glitzy, expensive ads like this is just one way to make that possible.