People living in the UK are highly familiar with the concept of “driverless cars”, but have not yet formed hardened opinions about the technology, according to a nationwide survey carried out on behalf of the UK Autodrive programme.
Researchers at Cambridge University’s Engineering Department and the Department of Psychology, surveyed 2,850 UK residents online and found that more than three quarters (76%) had heard of driverless vehicles, comparing favourably to driver assistance technologies that are already commercially available, such as adaptive cruise control (familiar to 40% of those surveyed), automated emergency braking (38%) and lane-keeping systems (34%).
The researchers say that, while general levels of awareness are high, it appears however that the technology has not yet been around long enough for hard-line attitudes to set in. The responses revealed a remarkably open mind to the arrival of self-driving vehicles, with 35% of those surveyed saying they would use a fully self-driving vehicle (without a driver or steering wheel) once one was available to them. Only 15% of the respondents expressed strong opposition to the idea.
Nevertheless, they add, some reticence was expressed when it came to the ability of new technology to replace human involvement completely. In response to questions about what levels of control they would like to retain, 85% expressed a desire to retain some control over the choice of route, and 74% wanted to retain an option to drive manually.
The 49-question survey also asked people what they would do while riding in a self-driving vehicle, with more than half (55%) saying they would look out at the scenery. Checking emails (37%), making phone calls (35%) and eating or drinking (also 35%) were among the other popular choices.
You can see a full executive summary of the results here.