In the past months the number of publications regarding autonomous driving has been increasing strongly – especially when it comes to public acceptance of self-driving vehicle technology. At this point polling agency Emnid is also stepping in with a study in cooperation with Fraunhofer IESE from Kaiserslautern. The study’s aim was to draw up the relation between the German people and autonomous driving. According to the study the Germans have rather little acceptance for autonomous vehicles at the moment. 61% of the polled people stated that they have no trust in the technology. They would not enter an autonomous vehicle and let the system take full control. Only 20% like the idea of autonomous cars on the streets.
Particularly people who have not been able to participate in individual transport before (handicapped people, senior people and people without a driving license) are looking forward to using self-driving vehicles. Urban regions would benefit from the new technology. Political pressure towards car traffic is rising due to its environmental impact, lack of space in the cities, traffic congestions and the danger for weak road users like pedestrians and cyclists. Autonomous cars could be the solution for the mentioned issues. The study shows that the great suspicion towards autonomous driving is explained by the fear of accidents. This was indicated by 84% of the study participants – 83% are afraid of giving up control during the drive. Moreover many citizens are concerned about potential hacker attacks which could induce more fatal accidents.
The scientists and publishers of the study still recognize and appreciate the benefits in regard to autonomous driving technology. In case of danger a computer provides a shorter reaction time than a human. Unlike a human driver an autonomous vehicle cannot get tired or distracted. In about 20 years researchers expect the technology to be ready for series production. Above all automation will proceed in urban areas, e.g. in public bus transport. Nevertheless the technology could also impact rural areas as tourists would then be able to access certain areas by bus. This could increase these areas’ attraction. Here the study participants only agree partially – 45% of them expect autonomous vehicles to be used in rural areas. The respondents put their trust in driverless vehicles when it comes to stress reduction. Several people could imagine to use the technology on motorways (59%), at night (51%) or when they commute to work (44%).
In my opinion future mobility will depend on Car-Sharing and Ride-Sharing. But the study shows that for two thirds of the people this is not a substitute for the private car. Trade association Bitkom published a study on the role of the private car, here 62% of the respondents stressed the relevance of the own vehicle. The results showed a great distrust of autonomous vehicles as well. So it will take a lot of “lobbying” for the technology to establish it on public roads.
About the author:
David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: http://www.autonomes-fahren.de