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Is the UK public ready for driverless cars?

Less than one third of respondents would be happy to be picked up by a driverless car

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Younger people in the UK are most open to being picked up by a driverless car
Younger people in the UK are most open to being picked up by a driverless car

Although more than half of the public (53 per cent) in the UK are upbeat about the way technology is driving change in the country, a new study suggests it’s a different matter when it comes to the issue of autonomous vehicles.

 

Transport is second only to education as the sector that the UK public is most keen to see transformed by technology, according to Fujitsu’s Tech in a Transforming Britain report, yet this doesn’t translate directly into a whole-hearted embrace of innovation in the sector.

 

Lack of trust in autonomy

 

Less than one third of respondents (29 per cent) would be happy to be picked up by a driverless car, and when it comes to trusting autonomous driving technology with the safety of a person’s child, that number dives to 17 per cent.

 

This level of comfort varies dramatically according to gender as well as age and where respondents live. Men are twice as likely to be happy to put the school run in the hands of artificial intelligence (AI) as women, with almost a quarter (24 per cent) reportedly feeling comfortable with this notion compared to just 12 per cent of women.

 

Men, however, are not the segment that are most receptive to autonomous cars transporting their children, the report finds. One third of Londoners (30 per cent) would be happy with this application of the technology, well above the 18 per cent average across the country, illustrating the importance of location.

"While the public might not be ready for full-throttled driverless cars, they are likely to be more receptive to a different model for transport: mobility-as-a-service”

Age also plays a key role in comfort levels with autonomous vehicles: 16-24 year olds are most open to being collected by a driverless car (39 per cent), while over-55s are far less favourable to the technology (20 per cent).

 

“People’s fears around autonomous vehicles are understandable – it’s a very human characteristic to worry about ceding control of your personal safety to a machine which you don’t understand,” said Chris Patton, EMEIA transport team, Fujitsu.

 

“However, while the public might not be ready for full-throttled driverless cars, they are likely to be more receptive to a different model for transport: mobility-as-a-service.”

 

He continued: “This on-demand approach to transport not only matches changing consumer attitudes as they are now, it is also much more feasible technologically. Using digital platforms to match supply directly to demand à la Uber, this model has the potential to save consumers money, massively reduce congestion, and create a more sustainable transport system.

 

"Both business and government should be educating the public on the benefits of this approach and working together to put in place the infrastructure to make it possible.”

 

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