Google's Driverless Cars

Driverless cars have been given the thumbs-down by the majority of British adults, according to a new study.

A poll carried out for Churchill Car Insurance found that 56 per cent of those quizzed wouldn't buy an autonomous machine, while a quarter of them believed the vehicles wouldn't be safe.

Malfunctions were the biggest concern, with 60 per cent of respondents worrying that the computer could be unreliable, 56 per cent fearing the lack of human control, and 32 per cent concerned about cyber security issues such as hacking.

Just over two in five (42 per cent) reckoned that carbon emissions would fall, with 41 per cent believing fuel consumption would also drop. And just 17 per cent believed that driverless cars would herald a decrease in commuting times, with only 12 per cent foreseeing a reduction in breakdowns.

Churchill Car Insurance head Steve Barrett said: "Driverless cars have a long way to go before they win people's confidence. Education on issues such as safety standards, including computer ethics, is needed, as well as a rethink on existing road rules and amendments to insurance regulation.

"It is still early days, however, so a certain amount of scepticism around such a significant development is to be expected. It is also still too early to be able to assess the implications a fully driverless car will have on insurance."

A total of 2,006 UK adults were quizzed about self-driving cars last month by Opinium Research on behalf of Churchill, and just over one in four (27 per cent) of them said they would consider buying a driverless car, with £19,000 being the average price at which they would think about getting one.

Just eight per cent of respondents had no worries about autonomous cars.