Nobody Wants To Sleep In A Driverless Car

Driverless cars are either a strange folly on Google’s part, or everyone’s inevitable future. While Google continues testing, researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed the public to find out how we feel about the prospect of self-driving cars. The sort of surprising result is that while people generally have a positive opinion of the technology, the prospect of riding in a self-driving car makes most people nervous.

People who took part in this survey were adults who live in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. There were about 1,533 respondents, and the findings were pretty consistent across all three countries surveyed.

One of the chief advantages of the vehicles is supposed to be fewer accidents, and survey participants agreed with that. In theory. When asked how they would probably spend their time in a self-driving vehicle, 41% of all respondents said that they would still watch the road even though it’s not necessary when they aren’t driving.

8.3% of people say that they would probably read, 5.3% say that they would watch TV (that’s probably a gross underestimate) and only 7% of respondents say that they would sleep. Wouldn’t commute snoozing or being able to have your car chauffeur you overnight on road trips be one of the main advantages of a self-driving vehicle?

Respondents generally had positive ideas about self-driving technology, but seemed nervous about the loss of control and about adopting the cars in their real lives when the time comes. They also didn’t want to pay extra for the option of a self-driving car.

A Survey of Public Opinion about Autonomous and Self-Driving
Vehicles in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia
[University of Michigan]
Survey: People Like Self-Driving Cars, But Not Enough to Sleep in Them [Wall Street Journal]

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  1. furiousd says:

    I’d use it all the time for napping. I have a regular monthly trip that takes me 3 hours out of town at 4am and brings me back the same day at 8pm. I’d love to be able to sleep during the legs of that trip and just that would make it worthwhile to get a self-driving car. I imagine I’d be more apt to take long trips, including my yearly 10-hour jaunt to the coast. I’d be far more refreshed if I was dozing in a hammock in the back en route. I love technology.

    • I can’t nap comfortably in the back of my sedan, and I’m shorter than the average fifth-grader. There would have to be some interesting vehicle redesigns for this to work. Minivans that convert to having bunks? Hammocks, as you say?