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Current confusion and scepticism among UK public about autonomous cars is unlikely to stop the march of AI


A team of researchers in the UK have developed a neural network that can learn how to drive a car in 15 to 20 minutes using only a computer and a single camera.

Wayve, the company behind the neural network, is creating the world’s first autonomous vehicles based entirely on reinforcement learning. Its next goal is to scale up the technology to complete more complex driving tasks beyond just staying within a lane, hoping the system will eventually handle complex situations such as traffic lights, roundabouts and intersections.

However, according to a recent research by the enterprise information management firm OpenText, there’s confusion and scepticism among the UK public about autonomous driving. Some 60% of UK citizens think there will be a time when driverless/autonomous cars outnumber crewed vehicles, but over half (52%) of respondents would never consider buying a driverless car or renting one on a per-use basis, even if they were priced similarly to an ordinary car.

A third (31%) believe there will be more driverless/autonomous cars on the road than ‘normal’ cars in the next 10 to 15 years. However, a similar survey from OpenText in 2017 showed nearly twice as many people (66%) thought this would be the case.

In 2017, 24% said they would feel comfortable being a passenger in a driverless/autonomous car, yet this figure has dropped to 19% in the survey this year.

Moreover, only 23% of UK citizens responding to the 2018 survey think the ability of driverless/autonomous vehicles to obey all traffic rules will improve road safety, down from 42% in 2017. Today, only one in ten (10%) think this technology will make roads safer (but only on UK motorways).

“The results of this research highlight that we’re very much in an era of transition for automotive vehicles. The mix of confusion, fear, optimism and inevitability in the minds of UK citizens shows that whereas some AI-enabled technologies have moved seamlessly into our lives, more game-changing offerings like autonomous vehicles will take time to be embraced,” said Mark Bridger, senior vice president at OpenText UK.

“AI will enable automakers to analyse, adapt and suggest solutions based on data. As autonomous vehicles become more common, the data they produce will become a new, powerful asset for organisations. Yet car companies need to ensure they are doing more than delivering the most innovative connected technology. Addressing consumer concerns and loss of confidence will be critical for success and take up too. They need to ensure the technology is safe and reliable to install the level of trust needed for mass adoption.”



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