Written by John Meadowcroft ▼

UK drivers set to snub driverless cars

UK drivers set to snub driverless cars

UK motorists are set to snub driverless car technology despite over 300,000 miles of accident-free driving, new research has revealed.

The technology, which sees cars use GPS, radar and other sensors to drive themselves without human intervention, has been criticised by motorists concerned about the safety of the systems on UK roads.

In a recent survey of motorists, forty per cent of people refused to even consider ownership and 65 per cent said they were sceptical of the technology - leading to a long fight for builders of the technology, such as tech giant Google, to sway public opinion.

Additionally, 56 per cent of people also dismissed the idea of driverless cars being 'the norm' over the next decade. Over half thought the technology would be best served as a crash prevention system.

The results come from a survey conducted by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) that surveyed 1,088 drivers for their opinions on driverless car technology.

Only a third of those surveyed said that driverless technology would be beneficial to road safety, agreeing that taking the human element out of driving would be a strong argument for ownership.

It's not all bad news. Half surveyed felt the car's ability to never exceed the speed limit was an attractive quality, with less than a hundred considering the technology 'irresponsible'.

But the overall impression given by the survey is that driverless technology has an awfully long way to go before it's considered a must-have. IAM chief executive Simon Best says: "The presence of driverless technology in every car is still many years away.

"In the meantime, more should be done immediately to improve driver standards and deal with the most common human errors through better training, as well as incentives by the government and insurance companies.

"Of course technology has a huge role to play in road safety, but as long as there are cars on the road people will want to drive them. What we need to aim for is first class drivers operating first class vehicles."

Backseat drivers?

Toyota yesterday announced new safety kit to help reduce such human error. Its new sonar system is able to detect objects, applying the brakes alongside an acceleration limiter should the driver have accidentally selected the wrong gear.

Driverless technology wants to go one step further, though. 2012 has seen huge advances in driverless car technology. Google has been using a modified Toyota Prius to test its driverless technology, with a law permitting use of driverless cars coming into effect in Nevada in May this year.

A video released by Google in March also showed the practical benefits of the technology, to help the lives of the elderly and infirm. Steve Mahan was provided with a Google driverless car in March, which drove him to his local shops and back home without incident.

The Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) project has also gained prominence this year, after the organisers were able to platoon eight electronically-linked vehicles together for 127 miles on a public, Spanish motorway.

General Motors has also indicated that its Cadillac division will release a fully autonomous car within the next decade.

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