Despite government announcements last week that Britain is pushing to be at the forefront of autonomous vehicle technology, half of motorists oppose driverless cars, according to a new survey.
Similarly, research on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean reveals similar reservations among drivers in the US.
In the UK, 62% of drivers said they would feel less safe on the roads alongside other vehicles with no human behind the wheel. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed (72%) said there would be added complications to resolving insurance disputes involving autonomous cars.
The new findings – from a new survey of 1,000 motorists by vehicle CCTV specialists SmartWitness – were revealed as the government made the development of 'autonomous vehicles' a key part of the Queen's speech. Measures in the Modern Transport Bill would "ensure the UK is at the forefront of technology for new forms of transport, including autonomous and electric vehicles".
However, there remains uncertainty over the new technology with motorists calling for strong safeguards to ensure there is a 'level playing field' with insurance claims involving autonomous cars.
Nine out of ten (91%) support the compulsory introduction of camera technology in all autonomous vehicles so there would be court-admissible proof of exactly what had happened in the event of an accident. The SmartWitness poll found that 52% of motorists oppose the introduction of driverless cars – mainly over fears about road safety.
The latest report from the University of Michigan builds on a recent series of eight reports addressing public opinion, human factors, and safety-related issues concerning self-driving vehicles.
An identical survey to that used in 2015 was re-run and developed to examine motorists' preferences among levels of vehicle automation, including preferences for interacting with and overall concern about riding in self-driving vehicles.
The main findings discovered that the most frequent preference for vehicle automation continues to be for no self-driving capability, followed by partially self-driving vehicles, with completely self-driving vehicles being the least preferred choice.
Concern for riding in self-driving vehicles remains higher for completely self-driving vehicles than for partially self-driving vehicles while respondents still overwhelmingly want to be able to manually control completely self-driving vehicles when desired.
Preferences were generally divided between touchscreens or voice commands to input route or destination information for completely self-driving vehicles and most respondents prefer to be notified of the need to take control of a partially self-driving vehicle with a combination of sound, vibration, and visual warnings.
The university said that overall public opinion has been remarkably consistent over the two years that this survey has been conducted. The general patterns of responses have not changed over the course of these two surveys, despite the increased media coverage of self-driving vehicles.