Midlanders 'cautious' about driverless cars

Only 1 in 4 people in the Midlands feel comfortable with the idea of travelling in a driverless car, according to a new opinion poll from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The poll found that 68% of adults in the Midlands are unhappy with the thought of being an occupant in an autonomous vehicle, with most people concerned about the lack of human control and the car not being able to deal with challenging road conditions, such as an accident.

People in Scotland, Wales and the South West expressed the most caution while adults in the South East had the most positive view of autonomous technology. The survey found that nearly a third of adults in the Midlands thought the UK would never switch to having only driverless cars on the roads, with 62% of people saying they would always prefer to drive themselves rather than use an autonomous vehicle.

The poll results outline the challenges car manufacturers and technology companies face in building public trust in autonomous driving systems, which was dented last year by news of the crash of a driverless Uber vehicle in Arizona killing a pedestrian. Dr Colin Brown, Chief Executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said:

“Consumer confidence is essential for autonomous technology to succeed, but if anything, that confidence has waned in the last two years. During that time, there have been very few controlled trials on our roads to allow people to experience the vehicles at first hand.

"As engineers, we remain convinced of the need to explore the potential advantages the technology offers. The Government has plans for trials of self-driving cars on roads in Edinburgh and London by 2021, but we would like to see many more taking place in other locations in the UK.”

The poll found attitudes towards autonomous technology varying significantly by gender and age. A third of men are comfortable about travelling in a driverless vehicle, less than one fifth of women say the same.

It found 42% of people aged between 18 and 24 feel confident about being an occupant in a driverless car, compared 11% for those aged 75 and over.


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