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Just 29% of motorists want to see self-driving cars on UK roads in 2021

Artist's impression: an autonomous car of the future

More than two-thirds of motorists disagree with the UK Government’s assertion that self-driving cars should be allowed on UK roads later this year.

A consumer survey carried out by What Car? found 76% of drivers are uncomfortable with the idea of sharing a road with a self-driving vehicle, even in limited use, while 29% think their 2021 introduction to roads is a good idea.

And the research highlighted a marked lack of understanding about the various levels of assistance such systems could provide to drivers, with just 35% of drivers stating that they knew the difference between Level 1 through Level 6 autonomous vehicles.

Steve Huntingford, What Car?Steve Huntingford, Editor, What Car?, said: “While the Government is clearly intent on ensuring the UK stays at the forefront of driverless car development, current drivers still need both education and convincing around the technology.

“Consumer understanding of the various levels of autonomy is low at the moment, and it will be important for both manufacturers and the Government to ensure drivers understand the limitations of the current and future systems in their cars before handing over control for however short of a period.”

Government declared last month that cars with automated lane-keeping systems (ALKS) can be defined as ‘self-driving’, which has faced backlash from the insurance sector.

A report published by the Department for Transport (DfT) found that predicted that connected and automated vehicles (CAV) could be worth £41.7bn by 2035, potentially creating nearly 40,000 jobs if the UK cements itself  as a world-leader in CAV technology.

In an opinion column published by AM yesterday, ICDP managing director, Steve Young, warned that Government's new policy could trigger "a chaotic situation" leading to "more accidents and more injuries, and potential arguments over liability".

The What Car? study of 2,659 in-market buyers found that motorists also disagreed with the decision, with 74% stating the term ‘self-driving’ should be reserved for vehicles that can drive with no human input, and not technology that can assist with driving.

The UK Government has previously estimated that, by 2035, 40% of all cars sold in the UK could feature self-driving technology, yet just 37% of respondents to the What Car? survey said they are confident the technology would be safe by then. 

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