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Will you buy an autonomous car?

By raccars Published

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Autonomous driving is the buzzword among manufacturers but who plans to actually buy one?

Britons dubious about autonomous car tech

The major manufacturers and governments are investing huge sums into the research and development of autonomous driving technology which, while still controversial, seems to be the inevitable future of the automotive industry. Trials of autonomous driving vehicles, led by Jaguar Land Rover and assisted by some £20 million of government funding, are underway in the UK and similar programmes are being conducted in a number of other countries. Most new cars sold contain some form of autonomous control such as city braking and other collision avoidance systems or self-parking technology.

Survey results

However a survey by uSwitch, a price comparison website, suggests that nearly half of UK adults would refuse to travel in a driverless car. 3,497 adult Brits were questioned about their attitudes to autonomous driving technology, of whom two thirds were worried by reported collisions suffered by autonomously driven cars. Last year Google confirmed that its autonomous test cars had been involved in 11 accidents, while Tesla's trial of autonomous driving tech resulted in a number of system failures.

About half of survey participants said that they would refuse to travel in a driverless car at all, and some 49 per cent of those questioned claimed that they wouldn't have confidence in the technology to be able to take the decisions currently made by humans when complicated situations arise.

Privacy and safety issues were also raised as part of the research, with nearly half of participants expressing concern that the software used in driverless cars could leave them subject to remote hijacking or the theft of personal data. 40 per cent of those questioned feared that introducing driverless cars onto public roads would result in higher insurance premiums for all drivers, not just those buying the autonomous vehicles.

By contrast only 15 per cent expected insurance premiums to decrease with public introduction of driverless cars, even though the technology is designed to eradicate the human errors which are the cause of most accidents. One fifth of those surveyed feared that self-driving cars would travel too slowly for their preference or that they would perform sudden stops.

On the other hand, 44 per cent of people questioned professed faith in autonomous driving technology and believe that roads will become safer if human errors can be reduced. 30 per cent feel that their lives would be made easier by the arrival of autonomous cars and 25 per cent hope that they would solve Britain's growing traffic congestion problems.

With the British Government determined to remain a key player in the development of future automotive technologies, investment continues into intelligent mobility systems, although the Government has as yet failed to come up with a solution to public concerns about the viability of the technology.

Consumer concerns including the assignment of liability in the event of an accident must be addressed if there is to be a solid commercial case for the introduction of driverless cars, requiring that manufacturers, the Government and insurers work together.

Autonomous cars at CES

Meanwhile manufacturers are forging ahead with their plans, and the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas earlier this month clearly demonstrated the increase in the number of autonomous driving systems being developed. Ford announced at CES that it would be increasing its autonomous driving test fleet threefold and developing a new navigation system to combat some of the limitations discovered in the systems being used by most other manufacturers. The company made it clear that it is determined to make driverless cars available to the mainstream.

Kia also took the opportunity to introduce Drive-Wise, an autonomous driving brand concept and BMW showcased a driverless version of its i8 electric vehicle.

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