Most People Worldwide Don’t Trust Driverless Tech

Most people around the say they do not trust driverless vehicles to be safe enough to use.

That’s the finding of a massive worldwide survey conducted by safety charity Lloyd’s Register Foundation suggesting that only a 27% of the world’s population would feel safe in self-driving cars. The survey of 125,000 respondents across 121 countries, found that despite the autonomous technology lobbyists’ claimed transformative safety benefits of driverless vehicles potentially reducing crashes caused by human error, distraction or fatigue, 65% of people across the world would not feel safe being driven in a car without a human driver.

The results detailed in a report, A Digital World: Perceptions of risk from AI and misuse of personal data, the results suggest the future challenge facing car manufacturers is as much about convincing people that driverless vehicles are safe to travel in as about developing the technology itself. The report uses results from the 2021 Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll, powered by Gallup asking people about their attitudes towards AI and personal data misuse, among other safety topics. In every country the results showed that more participants would not feel safe in self-driving cars than the number who would.

A key factor, according to the report, is how levels of education affect how safe people perceive self-driving cars to be. Some 35% of those with post-secondary education would feel safe, compared to only 25% of those with primary education or less. Internet access was also independently associated with feeling safe:  across each educational attainment level, the proportion who said they would feel safe was at least 9% higher among those with internet access than among those without.

Dr Sarah Cumbers, director of evidence and insight at Lloyd’s Register Foundation, said: “The results from the latest World Risk Poll indicate significant trust issues with perceptions of the safety of self-driving vehicles. Despite technological advancements and anticipated safety benefits, there is still much work to be done – both in terms of regulation, and in working with communities to ensure that the public have confidence in these vehicles. That’s why Lloyd’s Register Foundation supports programs, such as the Assuring Autonomy International Program at the University of York, that are working to ensure the safe introduction of autonomous systems, including self-driving cars.”

At 45%, people in Denmark were the most likely to say they would feel safe in a driverless car, followed closely by both the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan at 44%. The countries where people were least likely to say they would feel safe are Indonesia with just 8.4%, Zambia 11.2% and Gabon 11.3%.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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