New survey paints UK as still ‘wary’ of driverless cars

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With the new driverless car trials beginning in the UK at the moment, a lot of people are pre-polling the public on what they think of the current state of driverless cars. While each of the main studies will also look at what the public thinks of self-piloted vehicles, independent studies are also important and the latest one from Digital Spy paints a familiar picture: although intrigued, the British public is pretty wary of letting a car drive them around, rather than vice versa.

The survey asked some 1,636 members of the public what they thought of driverless cars taking to British roads. The result was that although 59 per cent said they would be willing to use or try an automated car, 41 per cent said they wouldn’t be willing at all – though 29 per cent of that number said they would consider it in the future. 12 per cent said they would never, ever get into a self-piloted vehicle, since they didn’t trust it to keep them safe and preferred the feeling of being in control themselves.

Although the majority of people showed at least some interest in the burgeoning technology, there were still a lot of people that were wary of whether it’s ready. 38 per cent said that they think it will take more than 10 years for the technology to be accepted on British roads, with a smaller 29 per cent believing that it would be slightly less time – more like five to ten years.

meridian

The Meridian is one of the automated vehicles being trialled in the UK at the moment.

Not everyone is quite so wary of the technology though, with some speculating that within the next three to five years we could see automated cars on lots of British roads. There was even one group of more than 150 people who believed it would be less than three years before we started seeing more driverless cars and public acceptance skyrocketing.

Those last two groups might be a little too optimistic, as we can’t even expect motorway automated vehicles to hit the consumer scene until 2017 and fully automated ones not until the mid 2020s. Still, public acceptance is another thing entirely and could well begin to turn around in the next few years. The ongoing trials in different parts of the UK will likely play a big part in that, as people from all walks of life will be given a chance to be chauffeured around by some of the most up to date automated technology in the world.

Chances are too, that even those that state some distrust of the new technology will come around in the years to come. As it stands, driverless tech is new and exciting, but that also means it’s relatively untested. As people hear about it more, become more familiar with it and see it’s results – whether first, third or n’th hand – they will become more comfortable with it over time.

It won’t be long before everyone wants a ride in one.

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Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.