Potential For Hacking Raises Fears for the Future of Driverless Cars

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Person reclining in self-driving car

Talk of the Tech

Driverless cars are the most talked about technology development for decades. Tempted by the idea of transforming the logistics, transport and personal travel industries, big tech companies like Uber and Google are investing millions in the race to become the first to mobilise unmanned vehicles.

But what do the public think about it all? The concept of getting your amazon order by robot-car is one thing, but what about putting your most precious cargo, your child (or even your pet!) into an unfeeling, unthinking motor car?

Expert Market has conducted a survey to ask members of the public what they really think about driverless cars. How far are we are willing to buy into this automated future? The results prove that hacking is our biggest concern.

Driving Fears

The survey found that 85% of those asked had major concerns about driverless technology, with particular fears being raised around the prospect of the vehicle being hacked or interfered with. The risk of hacking is something that has been raised by experts in the field. One experiment by a cyber security expert successfully diverted a driverless car with just laser pen – so it seems these fears are not without foundation.

Respondents were fairly happy to receive goods like food or clothes through automated cars (54%) but drew the line at allowing their loved ones to be taken in a driverless car with only 30% allowing their spouse to get in an unmanned vehicle.

However, it seems respondents were a bit more cavalier about their pals, with nearly half of respondents saying they would trust an automated vehicle with their best friend (43%).

Valuable Cargo

The groups signalled as the most precious turned out to be pets and children, with people’s offspring beating their beloved dog or cat to the top spot of passenger they would most worry about in a driverless car, but only by a whisker!

20% said they would allow a driverless car to transport their pet (10% less than people who would allow their spouse!), whereas only 9% said they would allow a child under the age of 18 to travel unaccompanied in an automated vehicle.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 48% of people were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to take back control of the car if there was a technical malfunction
  • 48% of people said that we should be concentrating on making drivers safer

An Uncertain Future

Overall it seems that the public opinion of driverless technology is lukewarm at best, with only 16% of respondents saying they had no concerns with the emerging technology.

John Goggin, CEO of leading logistics company Movolytics surmises: “In the race to be the first to get driverless cars on the road, it seems these companies have failed to build up consumer trust in the technology. Getting buy-in from the public will be an essential part of making a success of driverless cars, so they will have to remedy this in order to get the global reach they are looking for.”

Written by:
Julia Watts author headshot photo
Specialising in business software, Julia writes jargon-busting guides about VoIP, fleet management, dash cams, fuel cards, and more. Having spent almost a decade writing for entrepreneurs and reviewing business solutions, she loves helping exciting ventures – big or small – to flourish.