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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

More than half of Brits "would not use driverless cars"

15 March, 2014
Some of the world’s biggest companies are investing millions of pound in developing the driverless car – but more than half of UK residents say they wouldn’t use one.

A new poll commissioned by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers reveals that 56% of those polled said they wouldn’t be happy to relinquish the controls of their car, compared to just 20% of those who would.


 


The findings come following announcements from companies including Google, Ford, Mercedes Benz, Audi and Volvo that they are investing hundreds of millions of pounds in developing driverless cars in moves which could redefine how we travel in the future.


 


The poll of 2038 people showed women were more wary of the new technology, with 61% saying they wouldn’t use a driverless car, compared to 50% of men. Older people were the most sceptical about driverless cars – only 13% of 55 to 64-year-olds backed driverless cars, as opposed to 31% of people aged 25 to 34.


 


Philippa Oldham, Head of Transport at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “These findings clearly show that people in Britain are not convinced of the benefits of driverless technology. Autonomous vehicles would be a huge leap forward.  Much of the autonomous technology - such as automatic parking - is already making today’s cars safer, greener and more efficient. We certainly welcome any investment made which may help to improve and develop vehicles.


 


“However, these results show that although the technology is developing quite rapidly, the biggest hurdles these companies face will be convincing people to hand over control of their vehicles to a computer.”  


 


In December the Government said it wants to make the UK a world centre for the development of driverless cars, and will create a £10m prize to fund a town or city to become a testing ground for autonomous vehicles


 


Driverless cars – or autonomous vehicles as they’re officially known – use techniques such as radar, GPS, and computer vision to sense their surroundings and control the vehicles navigation path.


 


Although it is likely to be a number of years before they are seen on UK roads, almost all of the world’s leading automobile companies are investing in driverless technology. Google claims that its prototype vehicle has already racked up more than 300,000 autonomous-driving miles.



  • The poll asked 2,38 members of the public on their views of driverless technology and was carried out by ICM on behalf of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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