Design Engineering

U of C study looks at Canadians’ willingness to embrace driverless cars


General Automotive self-driving vehicles University of Calgary

One of the key findings of the study was that it appears men over the age of 50 are more willing to embrace this technology than any other demographic.

Who is more likely to embrace driverless car technology? That is just one of the questions the University of Calgary asked to measure Canadian’s attitudes towards automated vehicles.

u of c driverless vehicles

Schulich transportation engineering masters student Mahsa Ghaffari is conducting a survey on attitudes towards autonomous (driverless) vehicles. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

One of the key findings was that it appears men over the age of 50 are more willing to embrace this technology than any other demographic. However, the study notes that confident, aggressive drivers are least likely to surrender control to a computer-chauffeured vehicle.

The survey was conducted in Edmonton and Calgary and over 485 men and women across all 18-plus age groups were included. Respondents were asked about their enthusiasm levels when it comes to different levels of autonomous vehicles as well as if they’d prefer private or shared options. The research paper also looks at experience and habits behind the wheel, including tendency to speed.

Written as a master’s thesis under the supervision of Lina Kattan, associate professor at Schulich’s Department of Civil Engineering and Urban Alliance Professor in Transportation Systems Optimization, Mahsa Ghaffari’s paper shows a majority are ready to accept autonomous vehicles to some degree, based on perceived benefit, cost and convenience, as well as various levels of automation.


Here are some key findings from the report:

81 per cent of respondents said they are willing “to a very high degree” to let a computer choose the route

43 and 40 per cent are equally willing to allow control of lane keeping and speed, respectively

15 per cent of drivers are “not at all” or “to a very low degree” willing to let computers control braking and accelerating

12 per cent had negative feelings about automated speed control

Ghaffari found automated vehicles are more acceptable for commuting to work than non-commute trips like shopping and recreation within the city.

Overall, the civil-engineering graduate says the study, funded by Urban Alliance Professorship and by the AMA/AITF Smart Multimodal Transportation Systems strategic fund, points to a society cautious but curious about automated vehicles.


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