In-car experience vital to combat autonomous car fears

October 05, 2016

Consumers will prove resistant to the idea of self-driving cars until they have spent time on the road in them and learned that the technology is safe and can be trusted. The findings of numerous surveys indicate that ‘experience days’ will play a critical role in winning hearts and minds among vehicle purchasers in future. In a series of surveys, drivers have expressed broadly negative attitudes towards self-driving cars, most recently in a study carried out by vehicle finance firm Varooma. In a survey of 1,500 people in the UK, 73% of respondents said they would not give up driving in exchange for a driverless car, while 38% said they would not even consider purchasing one. This supports earlier studies such as a survey for What Car? in which just over half of individuals (51%) said that they would feel ‘unsafe’, or ‘very unsafe’ in a car driving itself and research by insurance provider Adrian Flux found 70% of drivers could not see themselves operating a self-driving car. International research for the European Commission in 2014 found that the majority of people in the EU5 were uncomfortable with the idea of autonomous cars. Those most comfortable with it were from The Netherlands, which is generally regarded as a progressive automotive market. Varooma also reports that younger people are more willing to put their trust in self-driving cars because of the level of interaction they have with technology in everyday life, from phones through to online banking. However, manufacturers will need to overcome the underlying lack of trust among most consumers and, according to researchers at The University of Warwick, confidence in the technology grows quickly once individuals have been given the opportunity to experience a ride in a self-driving car to see how it performs. The key will be to introduce drivers to the technology in an environment where they feel safe and then to increase exposure to the types of driver assistance features available and the number of situations where they can be used gradually.

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