Australians distrustful of autonomous cars by Scott Collie 26-06-18

An overwhelming majority of people aren’t keen on the idea of a driverless car.


More than 58 per cent of Australians don’t trust autonomous cars, and more than 17 per cent think robots can’t match human driving skills – according to a study from a local law firm.

The report from Smith’s Lawyers, titled Seven Problems Self-Driving Cars Face, found 58.6 per cent of people said “no, I like to have control of my car at all times”, while just 7.1 per cent agreed with the statement “yes, [autonomous cars are] the future” when asked “would you trust an autonomous car?”

A further 14 per cent said they’d trust an autonomous car, but only after the technology has been extensively tried, tested and proven safe in the real world.

These results are in keeping with previous studies into Australian attitudes toward self-driving technology. Last year, the 2018 Ford Trend Report revealed only 52 per cent of people Down Under are even ‘hopeful’ about the autonomous future, compared to 71 per cent of people in the Middle East, 75 per cent in Brazil, 81 per cent in India and 85 per cent in China.

Why the fear? The same Trend Report say 53 per cent of adults in Australia argue artificial intelligence will do more harm than good, and 37 per cent of adults thought technology already does too much thinking for us.

The law firm’s report highlights our current reliance on human intuition – think eye contact at pedestrian crossings – and the oft-discussed trolley problem, along with tough weather conditions and odd animals (kangaroos, for example), as hold-ups in the rollout of autonomous technology.

They’re hold-ups that, if the industry tide is anything to judge by, will eventually be overcome. The new Audi A8 is capable of Level 3 autonomous driving in the right legislative environment, and prominent industry figures are keen to highlight the potential safety benefits of full self-driving.

“Think about this: 1.2 million people die globally on the roads every year. It’s like an epidemic. If you had an epidemic of 1.2 million deaths in the world there would be no government that would stop at anything to put out the vaccine,” Robbie Diamond, CEO of Securing America’s Future Energy, told a crowd at CES last year.