Only 27% of UK residents believe driverless cars will lead to fewer accidents on the roads, despite 90% of accidents being caused by human error, research by AXA has revealed
When asked about other benefits driverless cars could potentially provide, a mere third of the 2,000 respondents said they would be better for the environment, while just a quarter said they would improve safety for pedestrians.
The research comes just weeks after a Euro NCAP and Thatcham study found that 71% believe fully autonomous vehicles are already on the market, even though the government aren’t aiming for them to be on our roads for several years. This further highlights the confusion surrounding driverless cars as well as the self-driving capability of vehicles currently available.
Defining a driverless car
There is no perfect definition at the current time, but the most widely used references to vehicle autonomy are the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Levels. These were designed to try and explain the requirements for increasing driver assistance & autonomy, however when shown to respondents, there was still confusion.
When asked to choose a definition that best described a driverless car, only a third chose the correct SAE Level 5 (Fully Autonomous): “A vehicle that can make informed decisions and control itself and does not require a driver to take control in any situation as it is able to adapt to its surroundings.” Level 4 (Highly Autonomous) behave similarly, but only in very specific defined situations.
One in ten chose: “A vehicle that has one form of autonomous technology, such as steering, speed or braking control”, which is SAE Level 1 and only provides limited driver assistance. To put this into perspective, many cars on the road today are already at Level 2 and we are starting to see the introduction of level 3 vehicles.
While driverless cars aren’t available yet, millions of motorists are already using autonomous technology on a daily basis without even realising, including cruise control, lane assist and self-parking.
However, when asked about the types of technology they were aware of, more than a quarter of respondents said they were unaware of cruise control. Three quarters went on to say they don’t think they’d ever used cruise control, despite it being readily available in most modern cars.
On the other hand, 61% said that cruise control has already improved road safety, with a further 82% and 71% feeling the same for lane assist and parking assist. What’s more, 84% said they think Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), which the EU is currently calling to be installed in all new vehicles as standard, will also improve safety on our roads.
“Driverless cars will revolutionise transport for the better, making our roads safer but also creating mobility solutions for people who are unable to drive. It is not surprising however, that new technology can be confusing and even lead to scepticism. What is clear, is that we need to educate motorists on the benefits of autonomous vehicles because consumer trust will be vital to their success.” David Williams, Technical Director, AXA UK
Hernaldo Turrillo is a writer and author specialised in innovation, AI, DLT, SMEs, trading, investing and new trends in technology and business. He has been working for ztudium group since 2017. He is the editor of openbusinesscouncil.org, tradersdna.com, hedgethink.com, and writes regularly for intelligenthq.com, socialmediacouncil.eu. Hernaldo was born in Spain and finally settled in London, United Kingdom, after a few years of personal growth. Hernaldo finished his Journalism bachelor degree in the University of Seville, Spain, and began working as reporter in the newspaper, Europa Sur, writing about Politics and Society. He also worked as community manager and marketing advisor in Los Barrios, Spain. Innovation, technology, politics and economy are his main interests, with special focus on new trends and ethical projects. He enjoys finding himself getting lost in words, explaining what he understands from the world and helping others. Besides a journalist, he is also a thinker and proactive in digital transformation strategies. Knowledge and ideas have no limits.