Driverless cars are just four years away from UK road use, but Brits still have significant concerns

Driverless cars are set to roll out on UK roads by 2021, with plans in motion to change UK insurance in response.

However, despite this many British people remain concerned about their use, with just below half – 46% – saying that they wouldn’t feel comfortable to be a passenger in a self-driving vehicle, according to the results of a survey by OpenText.

The survey, which asked 2,000 UK consumers for their views on the emerging technology, found that despite this, the majority expected driverless cars to be very widespread in the near future. 66% of those surveyed said they expected there to be more autonomous vehicles than conventional cars on UK roads within 15 years.

Automakers such as Mercedes are banking heavily on driverless cars. Image courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Despite the reluctance to get in a driverless vehicle, many Brits feel that they will make roads safer.

42% said that they thought such vehicles would improve overall road safety, while just over a quarter – 27% – said that they thought that the fact that such cars would always obey traffic rules would drive such safety.

An additional 10% thought that driverless cars would provide some safety boosts, but only on motorways.

“We are on the cusp of self-driving cars becoming a reality and, in the next couple of years, the automotive industry will be transformed beyond recognition,” said Mark Bridger, vice president of sales, Northern Europe, at OpenText.

“The technological advances in AI will led to a growing level of trust amongst British citizens when it comes to autonomous vehicles, particularly in regards to improving road safety.”

Image courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

While UK consumers are increasingly positive about the safety benefits of driverless vehicles, the reluctance by many to get in one suggests that far more needs to be done by the automotive industry to ensure that confidence grows.

For OpenText, safety is going to be at the heart of this.

“In this hyper-connected world, car companies, therefore, need to ensure they are not only delivering the most innovative connected technology, but that this technology is also safe and reliable in order to install the level of trust needed for mass adoption,” said Bridger.

“AI will enable automakers to analyse, adapt, and suggest solutions based on data, bringing the world of driverless cars closer to reality.”

Microsoft’s looking to invest in entrepreneurs creating the future of artificial intelligence

Microsoft is backing a competition that is seeking to find entrepreneurs who are “pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence”.

Innovate.AI is searching for start-ups in North America, Europe and Israel who are developing cutting-edge AI for intelligent apps, services or platforms that will help companies and society.

One start-up per region will be handed $1 million in venture funding and $500,000 in Microsoft Azure credits. In addition to those three winners, the AI for Good prize will see a further $500,000 in funding paid by Microsoft and $500,000 in Azure credits handed to the applicant that can show the best use of AI to improve society.

“At Microsoft, the future is rooted in the advancement of AI technologies,” said Nagraj Kashyap, corporate vice president of Microsoft Ventures.

“We’re excited to launch this competition with a strong group of venture capitalists that recognizes the importance of leveraging these technologies to amplify human ingenuity and power innovation in AI forward.”

Alongside the corporate venture arm of Microsoft, Microsoft Ventures, Innovate. AI is also backed by the venture capital firms Madrona Venture Group, Notion Capital and Vertex Ventures Israel.

Up to 10 finalists will qualify from each region for a chance to pitch their innovation in person, but they must introduce a product, service or platform that utilises or intends to utilise AI techniques, as defined by relevant scientific research.

The start-ups will also only be considered if they have raised less than $4 million in combined equity funding or loans..

Image courtesy of Microsoft reporter

“Start-ups are already able to create significant businesses based on AI at the platform and application levels,” said S Somasegar, managing director of Madrona, which manages more than $1.3 billion.

“Now that they are leveraging emerging AI platforms, opportunities are increasing to create not only a great business, but one that has a strong and positive impact on society.

“As partners with our companies, we work every day to foster the kind of innovation that will change lives, and we are excited to work with Microsoft Ventures to identify passionate founders and teams that will build the next generation of intelligent applications.”

Since launching Microsoft Ventures last year, Microsoft has invested in more than 40 start-ups, and the company has also formed an AI fund to support start-ups focused on inclusive growth and a positive impact on society.

Start-ups have until December 31 to submit their entry to Innovate.AI.