Travellers doubt safety of driverless cars, pilot-less planes

Travellers doubt safety of driverless cars, pilot-less planes

Three out of four adults in Europe and North America are uncertain about travelling in driver-less vehicles and two in five “completely unwilling, according to a survey by Travelzoo.

The study, released at German travel trade show ITB in Berlin, suggests many travellers are excited by new technologies in travel and transport – such as the Hyperloop and return of supersonic passenger aircraft – but apprehensive about driverless cars, pilotless planes and passenger drones.

Hyperloop travel would involve a sealed tube or system of tubes allowing friction-free ‘trains’ to travel at high speed.

The Travelzoo survey of 6,000 adults in the UK, Germany, France, the US and Canada found a lack of trust in driverless technologies and suggested a majority would be unwilling to pay more than today for high-tech travel.

Travelzoo UK general manager Joel Brandon-Bravo said: “Advances in automation, artificial intelligence, design and materials are combining to drive a revolution in how we will travel. But our study emphasises there is a trust gap that must be bridged.”

Revealing the survey results, Brandon-Bravo said: “Only 8% of respondents said they would be comfortable flying in a drone.

“A message to entrepreneurs and organisers rushing to be first to market is that a huge majority of potential customers need to be convinced about safety and reliability.”

Consumers were asked how they expect to travel in the future. Half (51%) said they expect self-driving cars on ‘smart highways’ to become the norm by 2030, 36% expected to see aircraft powered by alternative fuels, and 31% hyperloops.

Less than a third (28%) said they expect to see the return of supersonic leisure flights despite one Japanese manufacturer claiming flights will begin by 2022. Concorde ceased flying in 2003.

Almost nine out of 10 (88%) looked forward to faster travelling times. But the majority appeared cautious about pilotless aircraft, driverless cars and passenger-carrying drones. Only 20% believed these would be normal by 2030.

More than three quarters (76%) said they would not trust driverless or pilotless technology enough to travel in it, and 78% would be ‘very’ or ‘quite’ worried about safety.

Eight out of ten thought these technologies would be a luxury few could afford. Three in five (60%) doubted they would make travel more affordable.

Only 4% of said they would be prepared to pay ‘much more’ than now for holiday travel.

Brandon-Bravo told Travel Weekly: “Two things came out loudest when we asked consumers what they wanted – 32% said greener technology and 31% supersonic flying. Almost none wanted pilotless flights.

“Only one in four said they would be happy to get in a driverless vehicle. Three out of four were uncertain about it and 37% completely unwilling.”

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