With the recent news about automated ‘driverless’ cars being trialled in London for the first time in July, VPI took to the streets of Greenwich and spoke to people to get a snapshot of the benefits and concerns surrounding autonomous vehicles.
Key Insights from our respondents were:
3 out of 4 thought they are better drivers than a computer, which concurred with recent national research – with a caveat that this will change over the years, as people drive less and less and therefore lose the skillset.
- They were concerned about who was liable if they crashed
- They were worried about the vulnerability of the technology and that it could be hacked
- They didn’t think the technology was ‘there’ yet
- It would improve safety longer term
- It will make cars accessible for disabled people
- There will be fewer incidences of drink driving and road rage
- It will enable them to have increased productivity whilst in a car
- It will allow for more flexibility to ‘share cars’ with a pool available to drivers, especially in cities
- It will be better for the environment with fewer emissions as they expected the cars to be electric or hybrid
Overall, we also found that everyone interviewed would take part in driverless car trials in the UK, similar to those that are taking place in Sweden next year. Alongside this, most thought the UK government’s investment of £100 million into research and development of autonomous vehicles was a positive thing and that they were prioritising something that could revolutionise the way we live our lives.
The feeling wasn’t as positive towards driverless lorries, which are also being trialled in the UK, with the view to have 10 computer-controlled vehicles driving meters apart from one another, with a single lead ‘driver’ in the front lorry. Although the people we interviewed understood the logic in automating lorries and saw the benefits to distribution, there was a feeling that having a ‘lorry-train’ on the motorways would be intimidating and dangerous if something went wrong.
In conclusion, our research showed that people overall were positive about the idea of driverless cars, but feel more testing is needed at present.