driverless car

Concerns over driverless car safety rose significantly in 2022

There has been a “major increase” in the proportion of people who are afraid of driverless cars, a US study has found.

An annual survey from the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that while there is still a high level of interest in partially-automated vehicle technology, people are becoming increasing wary of fully self-driving vehicles.

This year there was a major increase in drivers who expressed concerns about the technology, rising to 68 per cent as compared to 55 per cent in 2022. This is a 13 per cent jump from last year’s survey and the biggest increase since 2020.

AAA said that automakers need to create an environment that promotes the new technologies as safe alternatives to traditional driving which includes a consistent naming regime for vehicle systems available to consumers today.

“We were not expecting such a dramatic decline in trust from previous years,” said Greg Brannon, director of automotive research for AAA. “Although with the number of high-profile crashes that have occurred from over-reliance on current vehicle technologies, this isn’t entirely surprising.”

Even with advances made in recent years, the findings suggest improvements are still needed to build public trust and knowledge surrounding emerging vehicle technology.

AAA’s survey found that nearly one in ten drivers believe they can buy a vehicle that drives itself while they sleep. Currently, there is no such vehicle available for purchase by the public that would allow someone to fully disengage from the task of driving.

This perception could stem from misleading or confusing names of vehicle systems that are on the market.

AAA found that 22 per cent of Americans expect driver support systems, with names like Autopilot, ProPILOT, or Pilot Assist, to have the ability to drive the car by itself without any supervision, indicating a gap in consumer understanding.

Despite the concerns, six in ten US drivers still said they would “definitely” or “probably” want advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in their next car purchase.

Examples of ADAS include blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.

“AAA seeks to partner with automakers to create greater consistency across the industry. Together, we can help consumers understand the type of technology their vehicle has along with how, when and where to use these systems, which will ultimately build trust in the vehicles of the future,” Brannon added.

The survey was conducted in January with a total of 1,140 people interviewed.

Last month, researchers unveiled a new version of lidar, known as flash lidar, which could make autonomous vehicles safer.

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