Are UK drivers ready to let go of the steering wheel and embrace self-driving cars? Hmmm maybe not. In 2020 the British government launched a consultation that could lead to driverless cars being legal on UK roads as early as late 2021. They are also considering proposals to allow these driverless systems to operate on roads with speeds of up to 70mph.
It was also recently reported that Apple is planning to release a driverless car in 2024 ‘with next-level battery technology’, showing that in the next 5 years or so, this space will see a large influx of companies starting to enter the market. The question is, with self-driving technology being such a drastic change from how we operate cars today, is the public ready to trust driverless cars?
Vanarama surveyed 1,000 members of the UK public to find out.
- 73% of the UK public wouldn’t feel safe in a driverless car
- Only 13% would trust a driverless car to take their children to school unattended
- 4 out of 5 people think they’d be able to spot a hazard better than a driverless car
- Over half of Brits surveyed wouldn’t trust a driverless car going over 30mph
- A third of the UK public would never trust a driverless car
- 9 out of 10 believe that UK roads ultimately aren’t ready for driverless cars
Why Might The Public Not Trust Driverless Cars?
Driverless cars continuously map their surroundings using a variety of highly attuned LiDAR sensors placed on different parts of the car. These sensors send out pulses of light to detect the surroundings of the vehicle such as other cars, road markings and road edges.
Once the car is in motion on the road, a computer makes decisions based on its surroundings such as plotting a path through traffic, when to accelerate, when to brake and activate obstacle avoidance. Perhaps more evidence of this distrust is when people have a good knees-up. When we asked motorists would they feel comfortable drinking alcohol before or while using a driverless car, which has been speculated about also being allowed by law, 83% told us they wouldn’t feel comfortable doing this.
One of the positive aspects often talked about driverless cars is that they will enable people to save a lot of time. An example of this is the school run. If parents can send their children to school in a driverless car, that will give them more time in the morning to do household chores and get ready for work.
However, due to their lack of confidence in driverless cars, nearly 9 out of 10 people told us they wouldn’t trust a driverless car to take their children to school alone.
It’s Like Autopilot on Easyjet – We Still Want Someone Ready To Take Over
Despite the promise of the technology within driverless cars being able to think faster than their human occupants and spot possible danger within a microsecond, motorists still aren’t sold.
When we asked motorists if they trust driverless cars to identify and respond to hazards better than humans, nearly four out of five said they don’t, despite what car and technology companies might tell us. Because of this, 95% of motorists believe there should be an option for someone to take manual control of the driverless car, although 9% think that it should only be allowed in emergencies.