New research has revealed that two thirds of people do not feel ready to share the roads with driverless vehicles.
A poll of nearly 2,000 Brits conducted by YouGov found that 69% of those questioned said they did not feel comfortable with the idea. 33% said they would not be ‘very comfortable’, while 36% (the highest volume of people polled) said they would not be comfortable at all.
At the other end of the scale, just 6% of respondents said they would be ‘very comfortable’ and 17% said they would be ‘fairly comfortable’.
Those surveyed were asked: Are you comfortable or uncomfortable with the idea of driverless cars being allowed on the motorway at some point next year? The results show that the majority are against the idea.
The survey was carried out after the Department for Transport (DfT) announced it was exploring whether vehicles fitted with an Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) should be allowed to use it when travelling at 70mph.
In order to shape the required legislation, the DfT is seeking views from industry regarding the role of the driver and the proposed rules on using the system. This includes asking whether cars using ALKS should be legally defined as autonomous. If it is decided this is the case, it would mean the technology provider (not the driver) is responsible for the safety of the vehicle.
The DfT has dubbed ALKS as ‘traffic jam chauffeur technology’ and has estimated it could be unleashed on UK roads by spring 2021.
If given the go-ahead, it will be the first time motorists can use in-vehicle technology that allows them to take their attention away from the road and onto things like checking for messages or watching a film.
But as Matthew Avery, research director at leading vehicle safety company Thatcham Research, explained: “The fundamental principle has to be: can the automated system emulate competent motorway driving behaviours?
“Or put another way, can the machine now better the human?”