How Will You Spend the Time When Our Cars Drive Themselves?

Jan 30, 2015 03:30 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma


The auto industry swears self-driving cars are just around the corner. When the autonomous future is upon us, how will drivers spend all that extra time in the car?

A new survey from the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University shows a future where auto-pilot lets consumers text, eat, read and even take a selfie or two while sitting in their vehicles.

The university has long been a site for advancing autonomous vehicle technology and has two research labs with General Motors.

Besides freeing up time, auto-pilot capability will make hazardous driving situations like driving at night, navigating unfamiliar terrain and merging in traffic much less dangerous, survey participants said.

When asked what they would do in a self-driving car, the 1,000 survey participants listed these activities as their top 10:

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

So will consumers be willing to pay extra in order to increase safety and free up their time with an autonomous car?

In the survey, 70 percent of participants said they wouldn't pay 30 percent more for a self-driving car.

"However, nearly a third of respondents (30 percent) were willing to pay 30 percent more for an autonomous vehicle suggesting there's substantial demand, despite the greater cost," said a school news release.

Unsurprisingly, the millennials among those surveyed were the most likely to say they would pay more for a car that drives itself.

As the next step in autonomous technology, survey participants were asked how they would want cars of the future to be designed. The top responses included:

1. Seamlessly connects to their home system - 71.8 percent

2. Is designed to be an office - 32.1 percent

3. Is outfitted as a mobile medical office and connected to medical systems - 22.6 percent

4. Can tape my journeys for a video diary - 21.1 percent

5. Has features for a great mobile party - 12.8 percent

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