The GATEway project has released the findings of its three year research programme, exploring the public’s hopes, fears and attitudes towards autonomous vehicles.
The research involved inviting people to be part of trials with prototype technologies and early results indicates broad support (78%) for the idea of driverless vehicles on urban streets, “provided they are safe and resistant to cyber attack”.
The University of Greenwich found that 43%, from a sample size of 925, felt positive towards the concept of driverless vehicles. 46% were undecided, citing key concerns about cyber security (44%), road safety (51%), other (5%). Only 11% of participants felt negatively towards these future forms of transport, a figure borne out by the results from Commonplace’s sentiment mapping. The research also found urbanites are happy to share transport for last mile journeys to and from transport hubs and that private car ownership was of lesser importance than ease of mobility.
They say the GATEway Project focused on people, rather than technology, and was “ground-breaking in the way it invited the public to experience prototype technologies in a real world setting, complete with pedestrians, cyclists, rain and snow”. This, they say, “provided novel opportunities for researchers to gain insight into the challenges of implementing new forms of transport in complex real world environments.”
Richard Cuerden, Academy Director, TRL, commented, “This is just the beginning of the journey towards connected and autonomous vehicles. Thanks to the GATEway Project’s research, the UK is in a prime position to build upon the lessons learned and experienced gained in trialling a whole range of driverless vehicles in urban environments.
We see driverless vehicles as a practical solution to delivering safe, clean, accessible and affordable mobility and we are proud to be part of creating our future transport system.”
GATEway says members of the public were invited to test prototype vehicles and services through a number of research streams; simulation trials, observations of pedestrian behavioural interactions with driverless vehicles, automated grocery delivery trials and a public shuttle service which offered a hop-on hop-off service at the Greenwich Peninsula.
More than 31,000 members of the public engaged with the research, including an exhibition exploring future vehicles staged by the Royal College of Art at London’s Transport Museum. More than 5,000 people signed up to participate in the self-driving shuttle service trials, which were also open to residents and visitors to Greenwich. 1,300 members of the public were interviewed.
The team say that the study was led by “a unique consortium made up of industry experts, world-class academics and the Royal Borough of Greenwich,” was conducted by TRL,the University of Greenwich, Commonplace and the Royal College of Art, with the remit exploring how people feel about using and sharing space with self-driving vehicles, and that “the research has helped advance the UK’s position in the automated vehicle revolution through partnerships with developers Westfield Sportscars, Fusion Processing, Heathrow, Gobotix and Oxbotica and a collaboration with Ocado Technology.”