While the UK doesn’t yet have roads populated with driverless cars – also known as autonomous vehicles – they will become a reality in the very near future. And far from being sceptical of their arrival, the clear majority of Britons (61%) will be welcoming fully autonomous automobiles with open arms. That’s according to comprehensive new research by insurer RSA into the attitudes of the British public towards driverless vehicles.
The research was conducted with 10,000 UK motorists (88% of whom were also car owners) and forms part of a report -“Autonomy and Motor Insurance – what happens next?” – painting one of the fullest pictures of driverless cars and their role in our future.
The report draws on RSA’s experience as the insurance partner to the three year GATEway project: a world-leading research programme funded by government and industry, which completed in March this year in Greenwich London2. The aim of the GATEway Project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) was to understand how automated vehicles can help to address the future transportation needs of our cities and the barriers that need to be overcome before these vehicles become a reality on Britain’s roads.
Over the next decade autonomous driving technology, including advances in artificial intelligence, cameras, sensors and data analytics, is set to transform not only how we drive, but the notion of car ownership itself. While ‘petrol-heads’ might take longer to warm to the idea of stepping away from the steering wheel for good, 90% of the drivers surveyed said they were happy and willing to hand over driving duties once autonomous vehicles become a fully fledged reality. In fact, a quarter of Britons are very excited about the prospect of letting the car do all the work. Furthermore, one in five adults see driverless as the ideal mode of transport for all journey types, from long motorway journeys to short personal journeys under a mile.
Safety was a large motivating factor behind Britain’s autonomous acceptance, with almost nine out of ten drivers wanting to see safer roads for all users. Unlike humans, driverless cars won’t speed, or run a red light; they won’t get distracted, fall asleep, get road rage, and they will be far less likely to be involved in an accident.