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Majority of drivers want a steering wheel in an autonomous car

Autonomous cars are said to be the future, but it seems the majority of motorists want to retain the traditional elements of driving – including the good-old fashioned steering wheel.

Swedish manufacturer Volvo undertook a survey of 10,000 respondents worldwide on the subject of autonomous cars. It found 92 per cent said it was essential the driver could take control at any time.

81 per cent, meanwhile, agree car manufacturers should take responsibility in the event of a crash, as opposed to the car owner or occupants.

In terms of driving ability, 90 per cent felt an autonomous car should be able to pass a human driving test.

Retaining driving enjoyment was another key concern, the figures revealed, with 88 per cent agreeing autonomous cars ‘should respect the love of driving’. 78 per cent did, however, agree that the technology would make time spent travelling more ‘useful and worthwhile’.

The survey was titled Volvo’s Future of Driving. General manager of the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center Anders Tylman-Mikiewicz said: “People have told us that they need to feel in control and have the choice of when to delegate the driving to the car.”

“Today, that need is ultimately fulfilled with the presence of a steering wheel. Therefore, a steering wheel is necessary until those needs change,” he added.

The comments fly in the face of Google’s vision for autonomous cars, which was to do away with a steering wheel – a move that blocked by government in the US back in mid-2015.

This is by no means the first survey to find motorists are still weary of self-driving cars (and will be for some time, no doubt), especially as testing has not been without a few teething problems. But this survey is one of the largest of its kind.

Elements such as self-parking and adaptive cruise control are already available on production vehicles, including Volvo’s XC90 sports utility vehicle and the Tesla Model S, which was recently upgraded with an Autopilot mode.

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