UAE survey reveals enthusiasm but safety concerns with driverless vehicles

Residents expressed concerns of technical failure and software hacking



The majority of UAE residents are enthusiastic about driverless cars but many also have safety concerns, according to a new report.

YouGov’s Omnibus Service conducted an online survey responded to by 668 people living in the UAE.

It found that 58 per cent were enthusiastic about driverless cars, 57 per cent were aware of trials taking place in Dubai and 61 per cent believed driverless cars would allow people to get around more easily.

Read: Dubai’s RTA considers autonomous vehicle deployments at metros, malls

However, only 43 per cent believed driverless cars would be safe in comparison to traditional vehicles, with 73 per cent saying their biggest concern was technology failure such as the car failing to stop at traffic lights.

Software hacking and mechanical failures were also concerns of 69 per cent of respondents.

Creating separate lanes for driverless cars was seen as imperative by 72 per cent of residents and 76 per cent said retaining manual controls in the cars was important.

“Driverless cars do offer a promising alternative to driving and would reduce the number of road fatalities due to human error,” said YouGov senior research manager Anjali Chhabra
However, public dilemma related to their security, and how these autonomous vehicles are likely to behave when surrounded by human motorists, leave much room for technology experts and regulators alike to ensure self-driven cars are indeed safe in all situations.”

In additional questions, 43 per cent said driverless cars would help reduce traffic congestion, 42 per cent said they would use them for their daily commute to work and 44 per cent on a highway.

But residents were less willing (35 per cent) to use driverless cars to take a family or friend to hospital that needed urgent medical attention or let children ride alone (33 per cent).

When asked what activities they would carry out in a driverless vehicle, 44 per cent said speaking on the phone, 39 per cent listening to the radio 37 per cent talk with other passengers and 37 per cent rest.

But only 24 per cent would trust the vehicles enough to sleep.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority is currently undertaking trials of autonomous vehicles in different areas of Dubai and local ride booking app Careem said it would test driverless electric pods in the city next year.

Read: In pics: Careem to test driverless electric pods in Dubai next year

Last month, German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz said it completed an autonomous car journey between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Read: Mercedes-Benz completes autonomous Dubai-Abu Dhabi car journey