Back in 2013, we published a blog all about driverless cars, an innovative idea (at the time) that has since moved on apace, despite a report earlier this year suggesting that British drivers were unsure about them with safety, technology and trust at the top of the worries.
But a recent report in What Car?, the UK’s biggest car-buying brand magazine and website, shows that drivers may be warming to the idea, with more than a quarter of 900 motorists (26%) interviewed saying that they would feel comfortable enough being driven by a car with autonomous technology to take a snooze.
In fact, they even considered it OK to be having an in-depth conversation with fellow passengers, browsing the internet and even watching TV whilst the car was piloting itself.
And the idea of sleeping in a car that was driving itself is even more extraordinary when you realise that the study by Whatcar.com revealed that it is on motorways – the UK’s highest-speed roads – that drivers felt safest doing it under autonomous. Nearly a third (32%) said motorway journeys would be the best on which to have a self-driving car, with city driving at 18%. Almost half (49%) said they would relinquish control in a traffic jam.
All this self-driving may seem a bit pie-in-the-sky to many of our readers, but remember that all this was said about electric cars, and even cars themselves back in the 19th Century. So it is no surprise to read that more than half of new cars sold already have autonomous safety technology on board and several manufacturers, including the likes of Ford and BMW, are working on driverless vehicles. In fact, Nissan and Renault have previously stated their aim to get at least 10 fully autonomous cars on the road by 2020.
But overall, the Whatcar.com study found that the majority of drivers still do not trust the technology that is so important when it comes to autonomous vehicles.
Almost half (45%) said they found the idea of a car that is capable of taking over the entire driving process very unappealing, while more than half (51%) said they would feel unsafe or very unsafe behind the wheel of a self-driving car.
And the biggest two reasons in this survey for this insecurity?
34% said that their biggest concern was that an autonomous car would not be able to avoid an accident, with 30% concerned about losing the enjoyment of driving.
Whatcar.com editorial director, Jim Holder, said: “It’s clear that autonomous cars have a way to go before the concept is truly adopted by the motoring public. Half the drivers we talked to would feel happiest allowing their car to take over in a traffic jam, when the risk is minimal, while hardly any of them would feel safe letting their car guide them along urban and country roads. So it’s perhaps a surprise that so many would feel alright about being piloted down some of the fastest roads – and then even more of a shock that so many would feel able to take a nap.
The increasing availability of technologies like blind spot monitoring, automated emergency braking and radar-governed cruise control is slowly turning people around to the idea of self-driving cars but, even so, only just more than one in 10 believes we will see entirely autonomous vehicles on the road by 2020.”
Are you comfortable in letting your car drive you anywhere with no input from yourself as you doze? Let us know in the comments below.