Men are significantly more positive than women about the prospect of autonomous vehicles on British roads, although many people believe it unlikely that cars would ever be 100% driverless.
A survey launched last year to explore perceptions of driverless cars has published its report. Two thirds of respondents were members of the public, with one third ‘stakeholders’.
Careful now! A driverless car on test
A majority of the public (54%) felt positive towards the concept of driverless cars being on our roads. Across all respondents, men (69%) were significantly more positive than women (48%).
Perhaps surprisingly, people over 40 were also generally more positive than those under 40.
The project was carried out by the People in Autonomous Vehicles in Urban Environments (PAVE) consortium, led by Amey and based at the Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire.
Amey said the project is now focused on preparing Culham Science Centre as a major test site for driverless cars, following several months of initial trials of the technology there.
The firm’s director of technology, Dr Rick Robinson, said: ‘Driverless, autonomous vehicles are gaining ground in becoming the alternative way to travel in the future.
‘Working with PAVE and using our years of experience in innovative technology and highways infrastructure, we’re able to provide practical knowledge of how they would behave in the real world – as well as their impact on local communities and businesses, and traffic and transport infrastructure. It’s fantastic to take blueprints from the laboratory out into the real world.’
A majority (73%) of participants in the research felt driverless cars will be the ‘norm’ at some stage between 2030 and 2050.
However, many respondents expressed scepticism that a computer system could ever be fully prepared for the complexity of urban environments and people thought it unlikely that cars would ever be 100% driverless.
Members of the public (49%) felt significantly less positive about the safety benefits than stakeholders (80%), while women (47%) were less optimistic on the issue than men (65%).
The research was overseen by Westbourne Communications and saw over 800 people engaged face-to-face and 500 feedback forms collected.