UK public feeling positive about driverless cars finds study

Connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) are expected to transform the lives of six out of every 10 people in the UK, according to new research published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Revolutionising Mobility in Society, canvassed the views of more than 3,600 respondents and found that this new technology is expected to offer freedom to some of society’s most disadvantaged, including those with disabilities, older people and the young.

Six out of 10 (57 per cent) people surveyed said this new technology would improve their quality of life. For young people, the impact could be even greater, with 71 per cent of those aged 17 to 24 believing their lives would be improved.

Consumers are increasingly seeing the benefits of CAVs, with 56 per cent feeling positive about them. Young people were most excited, with almost half (49 per cent) saying they would get into a CAV today if one were available.

Automatic braking and parking and the car’s ability to self-diagnose faults were cited as features most likely to reduce stress – the biggest attraction of owning a CAV among all groups. Freedom to travel spontaneously and socialise with friends and family were also seen as life-changing benefits, with 88 per cent of people who believe CAVs will improve their social life saying a CAV would help them get out of the house more regularly.

People with mobility-related disabilities – who accounted for more than 1,000 of the respondents – are among those set to benefit the most, with almost half (49 per cent) saying a CAV would allow them to pursue hobbies outside of home or go out to restaurants more often (46 per cent). Meanwhile, two-fifths (39 per cent) said they would benefit from having better access to healthcare.

Older people are also set to benefit, with almost a third having problems walking or using a bus, and many unable to drive due to ill-health, poor eyesight or prohibitive insurance, making a strong case for self-driving cars. 47 per cent of survey respondents said a CAV would make it easier for them to fulfil basic day-to-day tasks such as grocery shopping, while 45 per cent looked forward to pursuing more cultural activities such as visiting museums or going to concerts or football matches.

Commenting on the report, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive said: “The benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles are life-changing, offering more people greater independence, freedom to socialise, work and earn more, and access services more easily. While fully autonomous cars will be a step change for society, this report shows people are already seeing their benefits. The challenge now is to create the conditions that will allow this technology to thrive, given how it will deliver wider societal advantages.”