Would you trust a driverless car?

Would you trust a driverless car? It’s a simple question, but think about it - would you be able to sit back and let your car do the driving?
For most, if not all drivers, letting the tech take over and negotiate traffic would take a massive leap of faith – especially if you’re the sort of driver who’s already a terrible passenger in any vehicle. Ever pump an imaginary brake pedal in the passenger seat foot-well? Thought so.

Wheels of fortune

To prove the point that we’re all a bit twitchy when it comes to driverless tech, a survey from Autotrader has found an overwhelming majority (95%) of motorists have concerns over whether the cars could safely navigate the UK’s busy public roads. The survey of over 1,000 British motorists also found almost two-thirds (60%) wouldn’t trust an automated car on the school run – though in my experience the school run tends to be done on auto-pilot anyway – while over half (56%) would never even consider owning  one. And just over one-in-10 (12%) are fearful of the threat of cyber car crime, whereby criminals use a computer to hack into your car to take control of it. So are these fears well-founded, or just a large scale case of technophobia?

The rise of the cyber-criminal

Although it sounds like something from an old sci-fi movie, cyber car crime is on the rise. Just last week Theresa May MP, the Home Secretary, announced one in three cars are stolen by hackers who use tech to bypass remote locking and ignition systems. This backs up figures from the London Met, Britain’s largest police force, which indicate more than a third of cars stolen in the capital are not driven away using a key. And if a car’s systems are fully automated, this means hackers could make off with a vehicle remotely – as Pentagon security experts found when they were able to take control of the accelerator, brakes, steering and dashboard displays of an SUV using nothing more than a laptop and a video games console controller. So, it looks like an increase in cyber car crime is a genuine worry, but what about those safety concerns?

The rise of the technophobe?

When it comes to the safety of driverless cars, the figures speak for themselves. Google’s fleet of self-driving SUVs have now covered more than 700,000 miles and the only recorded collision came after 300,000 miles, and that was when a human driver rear-ended it! However, the roads of the UK and the US are very different. Successful trials on one side of the Atlantic won’t necessarily translate to the other. So we probably won’t know if the safety fears are well-founded until the testing begins early next year. However, the good old British weather could stop Google’s first wave of driverless cars as it’s been suggested they can’t cope with snow, heavy rain or potholes. If true, this would render the Google car all but redundant in the UK and put it right up there alongside the Sinclair C5 when it comes to failed automotive innovation. Would you trust a driverless car? If not, what would be your biggest reservation? Let us know… 

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