Would you be comfortable taking a nap in the driver’s seat while your fully automated car did the driving?
QUT researchers in Brisbane, Australia, have released the results of two new studies that looked at drivers’ willingness to one day embrace automated vehicle technology.
Associate Professor Ioni Lewis from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety-Queensland (CARRS-Q) was co-chief investigator in an international study that surveyed 1563 drivers across Australia, France and Sweden about their intentions—or otherwise—to one day have a Level 4 automated car that did the driving for them.
“Under international standards, a Level 4 automated car is a high automation vehicle that can completely drive itself,” she said.
“Together with colleagues in France and Sweden, we surveyed members of the general public across the three countries and asked them about their intentions to adopt this sort of technology in the future.
“We found French drivers were more keen to embrace automated cars than drivers in Australia and Sweden.
“France has been trialling automated cars for several years and is a world leader, so we think this increased level of community exposure to these cars may have contributed to the differences in intentions found between the countries.
“We also wanted to identify the psychological reasons behind people’s intentions. In France and Sweden, people’s ‘attitude’ (their emotions and beliefs) toward these vehicles was the biggest predictor but in Australia it was ‘performance expectancy’, which reflected how much they thought a highly automated vehicle would actually assist them.
“Realistically, we are still some time away from Level 5 cars, which completely drive themselves and don’t even need a steering wheel. At the moment people can buy up to Level 2 cars—these are vehicles that still require a driver but can do some basic tasks, like braking, by themselves. But it’s important to understand driver perceptions and intentions now as we plan for the future.”