Let’s Talk Autonowashing, The Greenwashing Of Autonomous Vehicles

This month marks the one-year anniversary of a great article called “Autonowashing: The Greenwashing of Vehicle Automation” by Liza Dixon. Dixon, a doctoral research candidate, has spent her academic career researching advanced driver assistance systems, human trust in automation, and, more recently, autonowashing, which she describes as “the gap between media and marketing’s presentation of vehicle automation versus its actual technical capabilities and human supervision needs.”

Basically, Dixon opted to coin this work because she recognized that gap between presentation and reality—one that mimicked the process that happened with “greenwashing,” where companies branded their products as better for the environment than they actually are. Dixon specifies that autonowashing generally accompanies partial automation, or Level 2 driver assistance features, which have tended to be presented as being more capable of automation than they really are. She was shocked to find how readily drivers were willing to overrely on ADAS, which translated into dangerous behaviors.