Seven in ten Australians want a self-driving car to take over when they feel tired or bored and just under half already recognise autonomous vehicles will be safer than a human driver.
The inaugural study coordinated by the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI) and its academic partners surveyed more than 5,000 Australians aged 18 and over.
The findings showed 82 percent of Australians are said to find that driverless vehicles will provide greater mobility for people with driving impairments and just under three quarters (73 percent) wanted an autonomous car to transport them when they feel physically or mentally unable to drive manually.
“It’s just under a year since ADVI led the first trial of autonomous cars on Australian roads, and fully driverless vehicles aren’t yet even available to the public, but the Australian public is already quite advanced in its thinking,” said lead researcher, Professor Michael Regan, Chief Scientist-Human Factors at the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB Group). “ADVI’s preliminary findings show the majority of the Australian community is already willing to trust self-driving cars in situations where they don’t feel capable to drive or when they would simply rather not because it’s boring or they’re in traffic.”
Regan said the fact that a quarter disagree driverless cars will be safer, and a quarter remain undecided, highlights the importance of continued community education by governments and industry to ensure the safety benefits are communicated and individual incidents don’t delay their safe introduction onto Australian roads.
Interestingly for vehicle manufacturers, the research found that more than half (62 percent) of Australians think they shouldn’t need to pay more for autonomous technology; but of those willing to spend more, they would invest an additional AU$8,977 on average for a fully-automated car.
Other outcomes included:
- 76 percent agreed they would want to use a driverless vehicle when they were tired or fatigued
- 69 percent would rather a driverless vehicle take over when driving was “boring or monotonous” and 60 percent when there was traffic congestion
- 61percent said they would prefer to hand over control to a self-driving car when they felt uncomfortable driving manually, but only 25 percent said they they’d use a driverless car to pick up their kids
- The most likely activity Australians said they would spend their time doing in driverless cars was observing scenery (78 percent) followed by interacting with passengers (76 percent)
- 52 percent would use the time to rest but only 28% said they would be likely to sleep in a driverless car
- Many Australians are also keen to make their daily commutes more productive with 36 percent saying they would spend their reclaimed driving time doing work