RAC Cars News


Autonomous driving car tech increasingly popular

By raccars Published

Image Source

Research shows that more and more car buyers are buying autonomous driving car technology.

New cars are safer than ever before, with even the most basic models fitted with some pretty sophisticated equipment which keeps drivers, pedestrians and all other road users safer. The next step in automotive safety development is autonomous driving technology, such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and blind spot warning systems.

Higher end vehicles feature many of these systems as standard, while they are usually available as options on cheaper models. Research by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that more than half of all new cars sold in the UK last year were fitted with some form of autonomous driving technology.

Collision warning systems

58.1 per cent of new cars registered in the UK last year included collision warning systems, which alert the driver to potential collision situations ahead. Five years ago such technology was only fitted to 6.8 per cent of new cars. 31 per cent of cars contained the autonomous safety equipment as a standard feature while 27 per cent of car buyers chose to pay extra to have some form of autonomous driving car technology fitted.

The big news in safety equipment at the moment is autonomous emergency braking, which automatically engages the brakes if sensors detect that a collision is imminent. 39 per cent of new cars sold in the UK in 2015 were fitted with a form of this technology, representing more than a million vehicles. 18 per cent of new cars in 2015 received autonomous emergency braking as a standard feature rather than as an optional extra.

About a third of new cars were sold last year with a blind spot monitoring system and 31.7 per cent were fitted with adaptive cruise control. Only five years ago this technology was only available as an optional extra and on less than 10 per cent of new cars.

Driverless cars to make roads safer

According to the SMMT, up to 25,000 serious accidents and 2,500 road deaths could be prevented every year by 2030 if take-up of these technologies increases. The society fully supports the introduction of driverless cars, suggesting that they could reduce the stress caused by traffic congestion and make Britain more productive as a nation by reducing time wasted behind the wheel as well as making the roads safer. The SMMT believes that freeing up driver time to multitask could save the UK economy £40 billion per year.

In his Spring budget, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that the Government had authorised the first trials of fully autonomous cars on public roads in the UK to begin next year. Audi, Google and a number of other big names are already testing their own fully autonomous vehicles and Renault Nissan recently announced that from next year the Nissan Qashqai will be semi-autonomous, capable of taking itself along a single carriageway without the input of a human driver.

A recent update to regulations has also allowed Tesla to bring its Summon technology to the UK, allowing the Model S electric sports car to self-park in garages on private land.

Autonomous driving car insurance benefits

Financial research firm Moody's is also predicting that autonomous car owners will pay less for their car insurance, as the vehicles should be less likely to be involved in an accident. While the technology remains a long way from mainstream introduction, manufacturers and insurers, plus tech firms, safety agencies and policy makers are already involved in discussions about liability and other regulations governing their use.

With fewer accidents overall, insurance pay-outs are expected to decrease across the board, which means that driverless cars could push insurance premiums down for all vehicle owners.

Looking to Buy?
Search for cars