The UK public is still yet to be convinced of the prospect of fully autonomous vehicles, found a survey of 1,007 car owners conducted by CarGurus, a USA-based automotive research and shopping website.
While having a car drive itself is still out of many driver’s comfort zones, automated technologies such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) and pedestrian detection are of significant interest to car buyers.
Respondents were evenly spilt when it came to their overall opinion about the development of self-driving cars, with 30% considering themselves excited, 35% neutral and 36% concerned. This divide was echoed in the near 50:50 split in participants who felt the technology was still too new to place their faith in.
The public’s mixed feelings toward automotive autonomy were less pronounced when the subject was broached in a more granular way, however. Despite just 22% of those surveyed saying they would appreciate a car that does the driving for them, participants claimed to be ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ interested in cars with automated driving assistance (ADAS) features such as AEB (43%), lane-keeping assist (36%) and automatic parking (48%).
The safety benefits of such technology were also viewed with varying degrees of confidence, depending on how the topic was approached. Just 29% of people said they were excited by self-driving cars making travel safer, compared to 68% of the same cohort who agreed that ADAS features make travel by car safer.
The reasons for this dissonance seemed to mirror recent media trends. News coverage of high-profile crashes (30%) was cited as a key reason why buyers do not trust self-driving capabilities, while long-standing debates around culpability in the event of an incident involving an AV were also shown to have permeated the public consciousness. 44% of participants said they would be concerned about who was responsible if something went wrong.
When it came to how owners would use an autonomous vehicle if they had one, 49% of respondents said they would use an AV to take them home if they had been drinking or were too tired to drive, while 34% would allow their AV to handle parking. Just 26% said they would use an AV to carry out time-consuming tasks such as collecting groceries and packages, while only 21% said they would take advantage of the extra time freed up by not having to drive in order to increase their productivity.
“This year’s Self-Driving Vehicle Sentiment Survey from CarGurus makes clear that autonomous vehicles’ tech offerings need to align with how people want to use them,” said Madison Gross, director of customer insights at CarGurus. “While there is hesitancy around self-driving technology, how consumers envision themselves using the technology would require full autonomy – which is still a goal that the industry is striving toward. Until then, motorists are looking for driving technology that helps them stay in control, rather than technology that takes total control.”