Alexander Wulkan

December 6, 2017

Don't Read This Post! Clickbait's Influence on Autonomous Vehicles

Recently the International Business Times reported that a “Driverless Shuttle Crashes 1 Hour After Introduction In Las Vegas.” This seems pretty straightforward right? Vegas’ new autonomous shuttle was not technologically ready for street use and caused an accident with another vehicle. Thankfully no one was injured or worse from a test of this new technology.

Las Vegas’ First Autonomous Shuttle

However, this was not the case. According to local news station KSCV:

“The autonomous shuttle was testing today when it was grazed by a delivery truck downtown. The shuttle did what it was supposed to do, in that it’s sensors registered the truck and the shuttle stopped to avoid the accident. Unfortunately, the delivery truck did not stop and grazed the front fender of the shuttle. Had the truck had the same sensing equipment that the shuttle has the accident would have been avoided. Testing of the shuttle will continue during the 12-month pilot in the downtown Innovation District.”

As it turns out, the autonomous shuttle not the cause of the accident and the title of the original article can only be seen as an attempt to discredit the successful implementation of this new technology on roadways. As the American Automotive Association cites“AAA is sponsoring the shuttle and says more than 30,000 people died on roads throughout the U.S. last year with around 90-percent of those crashes caused by human error. The goal is to keep things safer with a driverless world.” The technology being implemented in cities such as Las Vegas are providing invaluable data and testing to ensure the viability of autonomous vehicles being integrated into society.

Clickbait has become a go to for guerrilla marketers in recent years, and for good reason. Essentially, clickbait is defined as content with the main purpose of to attracting attention and encouraging visitors to click on a link to a particular web page. This is used for anything from drawing an audience to news articles to getting more views on YouTube content. Again this is with good reason, according to The University at Texas Austin’s Center for Media Engagement, notes that “These headlines often communicate varying degrees of certainty about the associated news article in order to generate clicks. Our findings show that the amount of uncertainty framed in a news headline is noticed by and has meaningful effects for individuals.”

The Success of New Technology is Dependent on Real World Testing, and an Accurate Portrayal of Results

This is of heightened importance for an emerging industry such as autonomous vehicles. The amount of uncertainty surrounding the technology, valid or not, is of utmost interest an misleading titles can severely damage public perception. This outlook is often hard to change, even when presented with facts. It is imperative that the quality of information delivered to the public regarding self-driving cars is accurate and will not lead to the formation of negative perceptions based on false information. This has the power to limit and even halt the implementation of technology that has the power to save tens of thousands of lives.

Difazio, J. (2017, November 08). Driverless Shuttle Crashes 1 Hour After Introduction In Las Vegas. Retrieved November 27, 2017, from Kyndell Nunley, Gabby Hart and Jami Seymore. (n.d.). Driverless shuttle involved in crash on first day of service in downtown Las Vegas. Retrieved November 27, 2017, from Muddiman, J. S. (n.d.). Investigating the Influence of “Clickbait” News Headlines. Retrieved November 27, 2017, from
Alexander Wulkan
B.A. Human Factors Engineering, Minor in Entrepreneurial Leadership