While talk around electric vehicle tech hogs the spotlight, the other just-around-the-corner advent in motoring is the arrival of self-driving vehicles.
To be fair, some manufacturers (Elon, I’m looking at you) have been saying that full self-driving is mere months away for multiple years. So it’s hard to gauge exactly when it will become mainstream. Most new cars down to a large chunk of sub-$25k subcompacts already have some kind of Level 2 semi-autonomous driving tech as standard.
Multiple studies have been conducted around how societies perceive this supposedly impending arrival of autonomy, with the latest one following similar trends to previous research.
A UK study conducted by CarGurus quizzed just over 1000 Brit car owners on their thoughts around self-driving cars, with the results indicating a clear lack of confidence or comfort in desire to share the road with these vehicles.
It was a fairly even split when it came to interest in the still-developing tech. Thirty-six per cent of respondents said they were concerned about self-driving cars, with 35 per cent being neutral and 30 per cent being excited.
Things go downhill a bit, though, as the numbers continue. Forty-one per cent of respondents admitted that they’re not comfortable with any self-driving car scenario; whether it’s the idea of being behind the wheel of one or sharing the road with them.
To generate this figure, CarGurus asked more detailed questions about what scenarios drivers would be comfortable or uncomfortable with in terms of self-driving car interaction. Curiously, the scenario people were least comfortable with was sharing the road with large self-driving trucks, with only 12 per cent saying they’d be happy to do so.
Only 16 per cent of those studied said they’re likely to own a self-driving car in the next five years; an interesting question given the technology may not be available in five years regardless. Another interesting point the study shows is that the top concern for self-driving cars is that they’ll be expensive. “I’m not comfortable relying on them for safety” was second, though, with 44 per cent of respondents making the admission.
Perhaps as a bit of a litmus test, CarGurus also quizzed respondents on other bits of emerging car tech, including back-up cameras and autonomous parking. And people were generally much more interested. It was really only the self-driving stuff that caused a rift.
Another interesting nugget from the study is that, while respondents said they believe Tesla is most likely to develop autonomous driving tech first, they’re more likely to buy autonomous BMWs and Audis instead. “Overpromises of self-driving capabilities and high-profile crashes are noted as top reasons to not trust an AV brand beyond it just being too soon to trust anyone,” CarGurus notes.
“The AV tech offering must align with how people want to use it. Consumers are most interested in using AVs to drive them home when they’re unable to safely, which for many can be seen as interchangeable ride-hailing services like Uber. For personal ownership of AVs to happen, there needs to be more clear benefits and use cases for consumers,” it adds.