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Aussies are embracing self-driving cars, study shows


A new study has shown that Australians are warming up to self-driving vehicles, with the majority stating they would like a self-driving car to transport them when they don’t feel up to driving themselves.

The inaugural study by the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI) showed that 73 per cent of Australians want an autonomous car to transport them when they feel physically or mentally unable to drive themselves. Furthermore, almost half (47 per cent) stated they feel self-driving cars would be safer than human drivers.

“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.

“Given the lack of community interaction with self-driving cars to date, it’s encouraging that almost half of the Australian population believe they will be safer than human drivers,” he added.

Regan said the fact that a quarter disagree driverless cars will be safer, and a quarter remain undecided, shows the importance of continued community education by governments and industry to ensure the safety benefits are communicated and individual incidents do not delay their safe introduction onto Australian roads.

While the above results suggest that Australians are well on their way to being ready for autonomous vehicles, the study also found that more than half (62 per cent) of Australians feel that they should not need to pay more for autonomous technology. For those willing to spend more, they would be willing to invest an additional AU$8,977 on average for a fully-automated car.

It is unlikely that this will be possible any time in the near future, however. Disregarding the fact that fully-autonomous cars are not yet available anywhere in the world, it will likely take a long time for fully self-driving cars to be economically priced. This would require very high demand and a competitive market.

Some highlights of the study:

  • 76 per cent agreed they would want to use a driverless vehicle when they are tired or fatigued
  • 69 per cent would rather a driverless vehicle take over when driving was “boring or monotonous” and 60 per cent when there was traffic congestion
  • 61 per cent said they would prefer to hand over control to a self-driving car when they felt uncomfortable driving manually, but only 25 per cent said they would use a self-driving car to pick up their kids
  • The most common activities Australians think they would partake in while in self-driving cars were observing scenery (78 per cent), followed by interacting with passengers (76 per cent)
  • 52 per cent said they would use the time to rest but only 28 per cent said they would be likely to sleep in a driverless car

The inaugural study surveyed more than 5000 Australians aged 18 and over and will be used to inform public policy, regulation, research, marketing and vehicle design. The research comes after an economic report released by ADVI last month, which found Australia could unlock $95 billion per year in economic value and generate 16,000 jobs by taking a more proactive approach to the introduction of autonomous vehicles in Australia.

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