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Wednesday, 21 November 2018 08:46

Self-driving cars have lost appeal in Victoria since 2017: survey Featured

Samantha Taylor of the Australian Road Research Board handing over the phase 1 report of the EastLink survy to Emiliyan Gikovski of VicRoads. Samantha Taylor of the Australian Road Research Board handing over the phase 1 report of the EastLink survy to Emiliyan Gikovski of VicRoads. Supplied

The number of motorists in Victoria who want to own a fully self-driving car has fallen compared to last year, the toll road operator EastLink says, following its second annual survey of drivers in the state.

Last year, 35% males favoured self-driving vehicles but this year that figure dropped to 29%; for women the figures were 22% in 2017 and 17% this year.

The survey found that more motorists wanted the latest features that assist drivers to stay within their lanes, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.

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A total of 18,010 Victorians were surveyed this year; the 2017 survey obtained data from 15,047 drivers.

The survey found that a significant portion of drivers wanted to use self-driving vehicles only when they were 100% safe with no chance at all of being involved in a collision - which the company said was an unrealistic expectation.

Some other findings:

  • The desirability of hybrid and fully electric cars has increased further, with hybrid power now rivalling traditional petrol combustion.
  • More motorists think it’s unfair that electric vehicles avoid fuel tax compared to those who think it’s fair.
  • More motorists think fuel tax should be replaced by a per-kilometre road use charge compared to those who prefer the status quo.
  • The majority of motorists think any future road use charge should provide a discount for electric vehicles to encourage take-up.

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A 5.9GHz transceiver installed at an EastLink toll point to test vehicle to infrastructure communications.

EastLink corporate affairs and marketing manager Doug Spencer-Roy said the drop in the number favouring fully self-driven vehicles indicated that expectations had been over-inflated by hype, and people were now returning to reality.

Thirty-seven percent of females and 28% of men wanted a 100% safety guarantee before agreeing to use a fully self-driving car. “When it comes to minimum acceptable safety, a significant proportion of people have unrealistic, unachievable expectations, which will be a significant hurdle for the autonomous vehicle industry to overcome,” Spencer-Roy said.

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Regarding the favouring of other features, Spencer Roy said: "EastLink anticipates that widespread adoption and use of the latest safety and driver assistance features — such as lane departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking — will significantly improve road safety by reducing the number and severity of crashes.

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“These survey results support EastLink’s expectation that these features will become commonplace before fully autonomous vehicles.”

EastLink has carried out a number of trials of self-driving vehicles on the freeway of the same name last year.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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