More than 15,000 motorists in the Australian state of Victoria have participated in one of the world’s largest surveys of attitudes to self-driving cars, conducted by the operators of Melbourne’s EastLink toll road.
Self-driving car technologies such as lane-keeping assistance are increasingly offered by the latest production cars in Australia, and ‘hands-free’ driving on EastLink and other suitable freeways is expected within the next few years, subject to legislative changes. EastLink is working in partnership with VicRoads, the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB), La Trobe University and RACV to identify opportunities to improve the compatibility between the latest autonomous car technologies and freeway infrastructure. It has been conducting testing of the technologies on its highway, with cars provided by a wide range of manufacturers, among them Audi, BMW, Honda, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Tesla and Volvo.
To complement its trials program, EastLink, with support from ARRB, has completed the first Annual Victorian Self-Driving Vehicle Survey. Key results of the study include:
More than half of respondents are no longer considering a traditional petrol combustion engine for their next car, with 34% considering hybrid power, and 25% considering the 100% battery electric vehicle option; The majority of respondents say they have very little or no knowledge of self-driving cars, suggesting that motorists need more, better information about automated vehicles; More than half of respondents want lane-keeping assistance or ‘highway autopilot’ in their next car, which should encourage manufacturers to continue to roll out this feature and ensure it works effectively on freeways; Even though hands-free driving on Australia’s freeways is not yet available, one in three respondents already want this feature in their next car; The majority of respondents want their next car to be connected to a data network to receive traffic and road condition warnings, vehicle security, and automatic emergency assistance.
“Our inaugural survey is helping motorists by ensuring that road operators and car manufacturers better understand motorists’ needs in relation to self-driving cars,” noted EastLink spokesperson Doug Spencer-Roy.