A new study by the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) suggests that young people are more likely to embrace autonomous vehicles.
In the Traveller Needs Study – conducted with the support of the Department for Transport (DfT), the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Innovate UK – 39% of respondents said they would consider using a self-driving vehicle, rising to as high as 62% among young professionals.
The study – which comprised 10,000 online questionnaire respondents, 50 company interviews, and 100 expert interviews – looked at transport users of all types, revealing a ‘much higher than expected’ potential acceptance of autonomous technology.
Of those described in the report as ‘petrol heads’ only 25% were excited by autonomous technology, while among those described as ‘car dependent’, 42% would consider a self-driving vehicle.
The study revealed increasingly progressive attitudes among the UK’s transport users, feeding into attitudes towards autonomous vehicles. 54% of respondents consider a smartphone essential for their journey, while 57% would share personal data in order to improve their journey.
In October, an £11 million research programme was launched to help further the development of fully autonomous cars capable of operating safely on the UK’s roads while the DfT has developed the world’s first code of practice to pave the way for driverless cars to be tested in the UK.
TSC is currently working on the LUTZ Pathfinder project (pictured), which will oversee the trial of three automated pods within Milton Keynes city centre, and assess their feasibility from both a technological and societal point of view.
Steve Yianni, CEO of TSC, said: “Drivers who use autonomous features could benefit from additional productive time, reduced fatigue and decreased congestion – not to mention the increased safety of self-drive technology.
“We think these figures demonstrate a growing awareness of these benefits.”
Commenting on the report’s findings, Nick Rawlings, editor of Road Safety News, said: “This is an interesting study.
“When we run a news piece about autonomous vehicles we invariably get a strong, largely adverse, reaction from our readers in the ensuing discussion thread.
“I wonder if this is because they are enthusiastic drivers, and perhaps not in the ‘young professionals’ category?
“Perhaps it is not at all surprising that the younger generation, who have grown up with technology as part of their everyday lives since a very young age, are less sceptical and more willing to embrace the concept of autonomous vehicles.”