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A new survey by What Car? has reported that the majority of UK drivers believe driverless cars are unsafe, highlighting the challenge that carmakers face to bridge the gulf in people’s existing opinions.
So far, the motoring industry has invested heavily into driverless technology in a bid to produce fully autonomous cars by the year 2020, but a recent survey revealed that more than one half of consumers feel either “unsafe” or “very unsafe” at the thought of stepping into one.
Furthermore, 45 per cent of the 4,000 people surveyed admitted they found “the idea of a car that is capable of taking over the entire driving process very unappealing”.
One of the biggest concerns by 34 per cent of the drivers in the survey was that an autonomous car may not be able to avoid an accident, proving scientists and car manufacturers may still have a long way to go before they can win over the public.
With George Osbourne promising to bring in a regulation to allow driverless vehicles on British roads by the end of the decade, Trusted Dealers looks at the potential advantages of adopting driverless cars in the UK below.
The roads will be safer – manufacturers believe that autonomous cars will be safer. There are 1.2 million motoring related deaths a year globally, with 90 per cent of crashes caused by human error. Unlike humans, machines cannot get distracted by mobile phones, or get tired at the wheel. Automated vehicles will not make mistakes – they use a range of sensors which will constantly monitor their surroundings. Driverless cars are expected to substantially reduce collisions, deaths and injuries on the roads.
Technology is there – half of new cars sold in Britain now have collision avoidance technology, which includes sensors to warn the driver if they are drifting out of a motorway lane. Vehicles will also be able to communicate with roadside infrastructure such as traffic lights and use information to minimalise fuel consumption and emissions.
Nissan’s findings – The Nissan Qashqai will next year become the first mass-market car in Britain to have the ability to drive itself on the motorway. Following a survey, Nissan found that many of the concerns people had over driverless technology were overcome once they travelled in the cars. Nissan took 50 passengers to try its autonomous vehicles on a test track and assessed their reactions. Nissan said; “Before testing many customers are apprehensive of this technology, but during the testing there is huge excitement and surprise at what the car can do.”
More free time for drivers – According to The Telegraph, the average driver in England spends 235 hours driving every year, the equivalent of six working weeks. In a driverless car, drivers will be given the choice regarding whether they want to be in control, or whether they want to allow the car to drive itself . If drivers choose the latter, they will be able to safely use the journey time to do something else with their time such as read, surf the web, watch a film or chat with other passengers.
Reduced congestion – driverless cars promise a better use of road space, a reduction in congestion and more consistent journey times using “connected vehicle” technologies. Connected vehicles would communicate with each other and the surroundings to identify the best route, decreasing the demand for road space.
More people can use a vehicle – many people do not currently hold a driving licence, and some elderly or disabled people may not currently be able to drive. When driverless vehicles reach a stage where they can operate a door-to-door service without the need for a driver at all, people who have previously been unable to drive will have the chance of increased mobility and a better quality of life.