UK Motorists ‘Not Ready’ for Full Autonomous Driving

While UK motorists are fans of modern ADAS, most still distrust the adoption of fully automated driving technologies.

Those are the findings of a study by the car-finder website CarGurus that suggests the majority of respondents see assist technologies, such as automatic emergency breaking, pedestrian detection and advanced navigation, are of significant interest to car buyers. At the same time just 30% considering themselves excited about fully autonomous vehicles while 36% expressed concern with 35% not sure either way. This divide was echoed in the near fifty-fifty split in participants who felt the technology was still too new in to earn their trust.

Just 22% of those surveyed said they would appreciate a car that does the driving for them. At the same time, emerging ADAS caused most to be very or extremely interested in cars with automatic emergency braking (43%), lane keeping assist (36%) and automatic parking (48%). The safety benefits of such technology were also viewed with varying degrees of significance, depending on how the topic was approached. Just 29% of people reported being excited by self-driving cars making travel safer, compared to 68% of the same cohort who agreed that automated driver assistance features make travel by car safer.

Naturally, opinions were colored by recent news coverage of high-profile crashes, such as the Tesla fatalities, where 30% of respondents cited these instances as a key reason that buyers do not trust self-driving capabilities. At the same time longstanding debates around who or what is culpable in the event of a collision involving an AV were also shown as a serious concern with 44% of participants worried about this.

When it came to how owners would use an AV if they had one, 49% said they would use an it to take them home if they had been drinking or were too tired to drive, while 34% would allow their AV to handle the chore of parking. Just 26% said they would use an AV to carry out time-consuming tasks such as collecting groceries and packages, while 21% said they would take advantage of the extra time freed up by not having to drive to increase their productivity.

Madison Gross, director of customer insights at CarGurus, said: “While there is hesitancy around self-driving technology, how consumers envision themselves using the technology would require full autonomy, which is still a goal that the industry is striving toward. Until then, motorists are looking for driving technology that helps them stay in control, rather than technology that takes total control.”

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

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