Only 25% of UK drivers would describe themselves as comfortable with the idea of using an autonomous vehicle, according to a new survey.
The study – part of a joint research project by Goodyear and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) looking at drivers’ attitudes towards autonomous vehicles – found that a similar proportion of motorists (28%) would feel comfortable driving alongside a self-driving vehicle.
However, more than half of the drivers surveyed would feel uncomfortable both using an autonomous vehicle and driving alongside one.
The research also found that drivers who are confident about technology and find driving stressful are typically more comfortable with the prospect of self-driving cars on the roads.
“I think we can all agree that Autonomous Vehicles are coming,” said Carlos Cipollitti, Director of the Goodyear Innovation Centre. “But the speed and impact remain an unknown factor for most drivers.
“Understanding how drivers experience the road today and how they feel AVs should fit into it will therefore be key to ensuring AV’s successful introduction.”
Safety is a key factor in determining how comfortable motorists are with driverless vehicles, found the survey.
Almost half (44%) of UK respondents agreed that ‘machines don’t have emotions so they might be better drivers than humans’, while 41% agreed that ‘most accidents are caused by human error, so autonomous vehicles will be safer’.
Despite this, almost two-thirds of UK respondents believe a human driver should be in control of the vehicle, with 85% agreeing that autonomous vehicles could malfunction – reflecting a trust issue that carmakers will need to work to overcome.
At the same time, perhaps reflecting their comfort with traditional vehicle design, 78% of UK respondents believe that an autonomous vehicle should continue to have a steering wheel, found the survey.
Dr. Chris Tennant, who led the project for LSE, said: “AVs are not simply another new technology. They are a technology that is gradually emerging into an intensely social space.
“It is therefore no surprise that a wide range of factors influence the public’s level of openness towards them.”