Three quarters of UK consumers are not yet ready to adopt autonomous mobility, with fear of technology and an ‘attachment’ to ownership cited as key barriers to adoption.

This is according to a survey from Neckermann Strategic Advisors and 7th Sense Research, which revealed it could be at least 10 years before autonomous vehicles become a key part of public travel.

Increased communication on the benefits of autonomous vehicles was cited as the best way to combat the fear of the unknown. This will help to improve the level of trust required for widespread end-user acceptance.

The survey also found there to be a strong resistance to shared car ownership. Fergus McVey, chief executive of 7th Sense Research, said: “The prospect of shared ownership – giving up what’s often seen as a mechanical member of extended family – and a skewed perception of what autonomous technology offers, is too much for a large majority of the UK to consider in one step.”

Six in 10 respondents said they would favour a private use, private ownership model as the most appealing way of accessing autonomous transport. The study said this is at odds with the previous industry assumption that shared ownership would form the core of future mobility.

Lukas Neckermann, managing director of Neckermann Strategic Advisors, said consumers need to be better versed on the benefits of autonomous technology. “The promise of enhanced journey safety, convenience and dependability is much more compelling than endless discussions on the trolley-problem and number of miles driven in autonomous mode.”

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Frederic John, co-author of the study, added: “Globally, we’re becoming less resistant to change. Electricity and radio took 40 and 20 years respectively to cross the 80% penetration threshold, whereas smartphones and social media took under a decade.

“However, these technologies did not replace items with an emotional attachment. Fax machines didn’t have nicknames, bring your first-born back from the hospital or go on family holidays. For consumers to detach themselves from this emotional connection in favour of the unknown, they first have to understand how AVs can enhance their travel experience.

“There’s an industry need to have a single, unified and strong voice to promote autonomous mobility technology towards the public and generate future end-user engagement. We look forward to engaging with partners from around the industry to build this strong community.”

Some 3,000 UK residents were surveyed for the research.