Wednesday 22nd July 2015
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A recent survey by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Institute of 505 drivers revealed that only 15.6% favoured automated vehicles and 40.6% would prefer partial self driving cars.  As much as 43.8% did not want self driving technology; clearly people still prefer to be in charge in a car.  The findings demonstrated that 68.5% of respondents were moderately or very concerned about being in a completely self driving car.  Back in 2014 a similar survey revealed that 66.8% of respondents felt the same way.  So fears are not being allayed but are very slightly increasing.

In the latest survey respondents were given choices of full automation, partial automation or none at all but the most popular preference was no automation.  Completely self driving cars were the least preferred choice.  It’s clear that people still prefer to put their faith in their own driving abilities  rather than a car/machine/computer hybrid.   What was most striking about the responses was that an overwhelming 96.2% stated that they wanted brake pedals, accelerators and steering wheels in completely autonomous vehicles.  Public confidence still isn’t there.  However, industry leaders are committed to making autonomous driving happen.  They are adamant that 90% of traffic accidents are caused by human error and that self driving cars would be much safer and reduce traffic fatalities.

Google self driving car

It hasn’t helped that 48 self driving cars which were licensed to be tested on public Californian roads have crashed.  Google and Delphi Automotive own these cars and both companies have insisted that the technology was not to blame and that the fault lay with the human drivers in cars. Chris Urmson of Google stated: “Over the 6 years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries). Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident”.

In fact Reuters reported that in late June a Delphi and Google car (both automotive) had a near miss.  Both companies have totally refuted the suggestion that the cars were in a ‘near miss’ and state that the technology actually helped both cars avoid a collision.  Delphi insisted that this incident was due to a “… complex driving scenario that can occur in the real world.  Our expert provided an example of a lane change scenario that our car recently experienced which, coincidentally, was with one of the Google cars also on the road at the time”.  Google are blaming other drivers, saying they are rear ending their autonomous cars.  They say that out of 14 crashes 11 of these were caused by other drivers rear ending their cars.  Also, there has only been one report of injuries so far which was minor whiplash and this accident was caused by someone else rear-ending the Google car. 

Over here in the UK motorists are nervous but not as much as our American cousins.  commissioned research earlier this year to find out what the British public thought about self driving cars. The findings stated that 43% of respondents wouldn’t trust the car to drive safely; nearly 50% of them didn’t want to be a passenger in a driverless car and 16% of people were “horrified” by the thought of this.   Four in ten respondents did not trust driverless cars to drive safely.  Some people expressed particular concern over liability for crashes, the effects on insurance premiums and the cars being hacked into by terrorists.  The bottom line is that people are just not convinced yet about driverless cars.

What do you think?  Do you trust self driving cars?  Please put your comments in the box below.