What would you do in a self-driving car?


February 25, 2015

In the not-too-distant future, when self-driving cars are motoring along our nation's highways, people will no longer have to be in control of navigating the car. According to survey results released today by the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, the pioneer of autonomous vehicle technology, the top 10 activities consumers say they want to do in the car when freed from the steering wheel are:

Top ten preferences

  1. Use mobile devices (finally!)
  2. Eat lunch
  3. Read a book
  4. Watch movies
  5. Do work
  6. Pay bills
  7. Play video games
  8. Put on makeup
  9. Plan a trip
  10. Shoot and post photos or selfies

Here's how consumers responded to the question, "What new design possibilities would you ideally like self-driving cars to provide?"

People want a car design that:

  1. Seamlessly connects to their home system - 71.8%
  2. Is designed to be an office - 32.1%
  3. Is outfitted as a mobile medical office and connected to medical systems -  22.6%
  4. Can tape my journeys for a video diary - 21.1%
  5. Has features for a great mobile party - 12.8% 

Read more.

What about safety? Here are the top 10 situations that people believe will be less hazardous with self-driving cars:

Top 10 safer scenarios thanks to self-driving cars

  1. Night driving
  2. Unfamiliar areas and roads
  3. Congested roads
  4. Bad snowstorms
  5. Merging traffic situations
  6. Interstate travel
  7. City taxi
  8. Daytime driving
  9. School bus
  10. Running errands

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The survey also revealed millennials self-driving preferences are miles apart from baby boomers. Age seems to affect the features that consumers seek in self-driving cars and influence lifestyle changes as people gain more hands-free time in their vehicles. Across all age groups polled, respondents identified the following features as those they would ideally like to see in self-driving cars:

Top consumer's picks

  1. Self-adjusting performance based on weather conditions
  2. Self-parking to find a space
  3. Driver fatigue warning
  4. TV or computer in the dashboard
  5. Active visual display of car safety features
  6. Virtual valet to avoid the rain (car picks you up)
  7. Voice command for the visually impaired

Read more.

About the survey: Carnegie Mellon, the birthplace of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology, has a 30-year history of advancing self-driving car technology for commercialization. The college polled 1,000 people to gain insight into what consumers are looking for in self-driving cars. In the survey, a self-driving car was defined as having sensors and computing technology that allows the car to safely travel without a driver controlling the steering wheel, gas and brake pedal. The vehicle would automatically move at safe speeds, keep a safe distance from surrounding cars, change traffic lanes, obey traffic signals and follow GPS directions to destinations.