• Paul Fingleton

Have your say: How do you feel about self-driving cars?

Would you trust a self-drive car on Irish roads?

The onboard computer of the modern automobile rivals anything that could have been thought of in Science fiction of the past.

The major automobile companies are concentrating their efforts on reducing our dependency on fossil fuels, such as petrol and diesel, and bringing other technologies to the fore: electric vehicles (EV) and autonomous vehicles (AV) or semi-autonomous vehicles.

An autonomous or driverless vehicle, is a vehicle that navigates its environment via the use of sensors, lasers and cameras. There are five levels of automation. Currently most cars are at Level 1, these cars have features such as cruise control and parking sensors. Cars at automation Level 5, are also known as fully autonomous vehicles, which can drive independently, without the physical intervention of a human driver.

New firms such as Tesla have captured the imagination and a large chunk of visibility from the more established players in the automobile industry. The Autopilot features in these cars are touted as market leading.

It is true that these advancements in technology have great potential to reduce incidents on the roads: Reduced driver error; Less stress means less road rage and much more.

However, will this quantum leap in the driving experience bring a driving nirvana, or will it raise more questions than it will solve?

Several of these questions are being put to the Irish public as part of a research project by Eddie Battle at the National University of Ireland (NUI Galway). Not only are we being asked about our knowledge or understanding of the technology, but whether we feel we can trust an Autonomous Vehicle on our roads.

  • Would you trust an Autonomous Vehicle?

  • Would you trust an Autonomous Vehicle without a driver?

  • Specifically about Irish Roads, would you trust an Autonomous Vehicle on roads with a poor surface, potholes and limited or no signage?

Autonomous Vehicles are programmed to reduce or avoid accidents and protect their passengers, but can we trust the decision-making process in a complex scenario? If an AV was driving and likely to crash into a minibus, a cyclist or a tree: Who should it save or who should it sacrifice? Is this a decision that should be left to the car manufacturers to make?


To have your say on this topic, you can complete the NUIG research project survey HERE.


Road safety in Ireland has improved over a number of years, through campaigns by the RSA, changes in legislation, the penalty points system and an overall change in driver behavior. With an increasing emphasis on road safety in Ireland, will the Irish people be more or less trusting of this technology? Your submission will be completely anonymous, and at no point will be revealed. Thank you very much for participating in our survey.