Roadmap outlining the steps towards autonomous driving.

General welcome for benefits of self-driving vehicles but significant safety concerns abound 

One in four Irish motorists say they have serious concerns in relation to the advent of autonomous driving with 15 percent saying that the concept of self-driving cars scares them, whilst 11 percent suggested people are becoming too reliant on technology.

Fully one half of respondents to the Continental Tyres survey on autonomous driving say that they would feel unsafe in a self-driving car due to not being in control of the vehicle.  In a similar vein, some 36 percent expressed concerns with the technology underpinning an autonomous driving vehicle.

The research for Continental Tyres was carried out as part of the company’s ‘Vision Zero’, a long-term commitment to reduce accidents through innovative tyre technologies and automotive systems. Continental is also partner to the Global NCAP #STOPTHECRASH campaign, a coordinated grouping of companies and automotive bodies in a shared commitment to promote advanced vehicle safety technologies as a means to improving road safety across the globe.

Notwithstanding the very real safety concerns, respondents to the survey highlighted some of the many benefits that autonomous driving can bring including the opportunity for drivers to spend their time more productively and for a small number of respondents (8 percent), autonomous driving, if implemented properly, could deliver the holy grail of ‘accident free’ driving.

The survey also showed a certain level of cynicism in relation to the claims of automotive companies.  35 percent of respondents were of the opinion that some car manufacturers have exaggerated what is possible with autonomous driving but they admit that there is potential for significant safety and efficiency benefits.

Commenting on the survey results, Tom Dennigan of Continental Tyres Ireland said: “Automated driving will surely be the biggest change to motoring over the next 20 years and it is clear from our survey that Irish motorists have some serious concerns in relation to this development.

“Nevertheless, as a company that is both an expert provider of safety technologies for the automotive industry and a systems manufacturer at the forefront of autonomous driving developments, at Continental, we are in a unique position to expertly understand the complete car. We are confident that the advent of autonomous driving will bring huge benefits for road safety, in particular, in developed countries where vehicles will be able to interact with each other and with the built environment – the challenge will be to replicate these advances in developing countries and as a fully committed member of the #STOPTHECRASH campaign, Continental will fully play its part in ensuring that the technological benefits of autonomous driving are spread as widely as possible.”

The top concerns in relation to autonomous driving were as follows:

1.     Feeling unsafe due to not being in control of the vehicle
2.     Issues with the technology, worries about breaking down
3.     Someone hacking into the system driving the car
4.     Driverless cars making ethical decisions, for example driving off the road to avoid a bigger accident
5.     Not being able to experience the physical act of driving
6.     Having motion sickness, due to not being in control of the car
7.     Worries there will be issues with the technology and not knowing how to fix it