British motorists would feel safer in a flying car than getting behind the wheel of a self-driving vehicle, a new study has found.
A poll of 1,591 UK drivers revealed more than half (56 per cent) have such little faith in the groundbreaking technology they would prefer to risk their lives operating an aircraft.
The research, published by Varooma, found motorists aged up to 24 were the most eager to take to the skies, with a whopping 60 per cent saying they favoured flying over being driven by their cars.
Pensioners were also more interested in owning a flying car than autonomous vehicles, with 52 per cent preferring to clock up the air miles than be chauffeured by a machine.
Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of those questioned said they would not give up driving for driverless cars, while 38 per cent admitted it was “extremely unlikely” they would buy one if they could afford it. Surprisingly, more people would trust the cars to ferry their children to school (7.5 per cent) than to transport money (five per cent).
Survey spokesman, Patrick Martin, said the results were a wake-up call to the motor industry. “This new research makes for alarming reading for the motor industry. Despite significant investment to get autonomous vehicles on the road, and rapidly developing technological advances, it would seem British drivers remain unconvinced. We all understand the dangers associated with flying a plane, so it’s surprising to discover we find it a safer option than computer-operated cars.”
Driverless cars have been come under fire in recent months following a number of high-profile incidents. US motorist Joshua Brown, 40, died in May when his Model S ploughed into a moving truck at full speed while on autopilot. It is the first known death of its kind. And, last month, an autonomous car collided with a van in California after its automated system failed to anticipate a driver allegedly ignoring a red traffic light.
Back in January, Google, which is at the forefront of driverless car development, revealed human drivers had to take the wheel 341 times within 14 months in response to hazards and software failures. The intervention was needed to avoid a collision just 13 of those times. In 69 cases the driver took control to prevent dangerous driving, and in 272 a human had to take over because of “software failures”.
Despite the dangers, however, younger drivers were also the most willing to relinquish control of the cars, with 17 per cent saying they would trust a computer to navigate, compared with just nine per cent of those aged 55-64. Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of motorists aged 18-24 also admitted they would play augmented reality game Pokemon Go if they didn’t need to focus on driving, while 28 per cent of women in all age groups said they would watch a film during a driverless journey. The most popular activity for men was sleeping, attracting 22 per cent of the vote.
Patrick Martin said: “While the future of autonomous transport remains unclear, these results suggest car manufacturers have a great deal of work to do before driverless cars are commonplace on UK roads.”