UK motorists would feel safer in a flying car than getting behind the wheel of a self-driving vehicle, a new study has found. A poll of 1,591 UK drivers revealed more than half (56%) have such little faith in the groundbreaking technology they would prefer to risk their lives operating an aircraft.
The research, published this week by consumer finance giant Varooma, found motorists aged up to 24 were the most eager to take to the skies, with a whopping 60% saying they favoured flying over being driven by their cars.
Pensioners were also more interested in owning a flying car than autonomous vehicles, with 52% preferring to clock up the air miles than be chauffeured by a machine.
Almost three-quarters (73%) of those questioned said they would not give up driving for driverless cars, while 38% admitted it was ‘extremely unlikely’ they would buy one if they could afford it. Surprisingly, more people would trust the cars to ferry their children to school (7.5%) than to transport money (5%).
Patrick Martin, senior marketing executive of Varooma, said the results were a wake-up call to the motor industry. “This new research makes for alarming reading for the motor industry,” he said.
“Despite significant investment to get autonomous vehicles on the road rapidly developing technological advances, it would seem British drivers remain unconvinced. We all understand the dangers associated with flying a plane so it’s surprising to discover we find that a safer option than computer-operated cars.”
Driverless cars have been come under fire in recent months following a number of high-profile incidents. US motorist Joshua Brown, 40, died in May when his Model S ploughed into a moving truck at full speed while on autopilot. It is the first known death of its kind.
Earlier this week an autonomous Lexus collided with a van in California after its automated system failed to anticipate a driver allegedly ignoring a red traffic light. Back in January, Google, which is at the forefront of driverless car development, revealed human drivers had to take the wheel 341 times within 14 months in response to hazards and software failures.
The intervention was needed to avoid a collision just 13 of those times. In 69 cases the driver took control to prevent dangerous driving, and in 272 a human had to take over because of ‘software failures’.
Despite the dangers, however, younger drivers were also the most willing to relinquish control of the cars, with 17% saying they would trust a computer to navigate, compared to just 9% of those aged 55-64.
Nearly a quarter (23%) of motorists aged 18-24 also admitted they would play augmented reality game Pokemon Go if they didn’t need to focus on driving, while 28% of women in all age groups said they would watch a film during a driverless journey. The most popular activity for men was sleeping, attracting 22% of the vote.
Martin said: “While the future of autonomous transport remains unclear, these results suggest car manufacturers have a great deal of work to do before driverless cars are commonplace on UK roads.”
For more information go to the survey: https://www.varooma.com/common/images/driverless-car-survey-data.pdf