Research - 22.10.2018 - 00:00 

Autonomous driving meets with scepticism in Switzerland

Hands-free driving with technology at the steering wheel is seen as an attractive means of travel in China, Turkey and Brazil, but in Switzerland it is still viewed with scepticism. This is highlighted by a study carried out by the University of St.Gallen’s SBB Lab in cooperation with Alphabet Fuhrparkmanagement (Schweiz) AG.

22 October 2018. In the online survey, 2,000 people in Switzerland provided information on customer usage and acceptance of autonomous vehicles. More than half of those surveyed are not interested in the use of a completely autonomous vehicle.

The study reveals differences with respect to the acceptance of autonomous driving in Switzerland. While driving assistance systems, such as parking and traffic jam assistants and cruise control, are highly regarded, autonomous driving with an increasing level of autonomy tends to be rejected in Switzerland. The less the driver can intervene in what is happening, the greater the scepticism with respect to this technology. Particularly for people who have not yet experienced current assistance systems, the idea of handing over the controls and having to trust technology is unpleasant.

More time, less fuel, no pleasure from driving

However, according to the study, positive aspects are also recognized. Lower fuel consumption, time savings, better and safer traffic flow and mobility in old age are seen as the benefits of autonomous driving. However, these advantages are countered by various uncertainties and impediments: as well as safety, concerns are expressed with respect to liability issues and data protection. Worries about a loss of control and pleasure are also revealed. Furthermore, many of the individuals surveyed admit concerns with regard to the high costs that autonomous driving might be expected to create.  

The new freedom that goes hand in hand with intelligent, autonomous vehicles is viewed with reservations. Instead of devoting themselves to other activities, for example reading, while travelling in a completely autonomous car, many admit to wanting to continue to actively observe traffic during the journey. Nevertheless, almost a quarter of all those surveyed in Switzerland would not hesitate to undertake a test drive in a completely autonomous vehicle.  

Autonomous driving without vehicle ownership

The majority of those surveyed came out in favour of the opportunity to use an autonomous vehicle when required but not necessarily to own it. Many would not buy a vehicle of their own. “One reason for this could be that your personal relationship with a vehicle decreases when you no longer actively drive it yourself”, says Prof. Dr. Christian Laesser, who was in charge of the study.  

Summary of the study: While the technology for autonomous driving may almost be ready, people are not yet. They have to be able to experience the new technologies and get used to them to have the required trust in them.

Photo: Fotolia / Scharfsinn

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