Autonomous vehicles, cars that are driven by computers, will some day be as normal as riding a horse used to be for long and short distance journeys long time ago. I bet people sitting in their cars will be thinking how on earth a human driver could manage everything that is going on in traffic and in the car. Although it may still take 10 or more years before self-driving cars are common and safe, we can already plan what do we actually do in the car when it is driven by a software algorithm.
My first thought was that, of course, I would view the scenery, and perhaps film the most scenic sections of a trip. Sure, but often on a road trip, the scenery can be pretty dull for hours. Maybe Twitter, work, email, reading a book could get me through less exciting sections.
Statista, a portal for statistical information, published a survey that asked people what would they do if their car was driving by itself. The survey was conducted by Ipsos/Genpop that asked 130 000 car owners: “What would you do with your driving time if you didn’t have to actively drive? (in minutes)”
North American and European car owners responded that most of the time they would still follow the traffic. The second time consuming thing was messaging and social media, since they were likely to turn to their mobile communication devices.
Asian car owners have slightly different preferences. Paying attention to the road and mobile messaging were practically equally important for them, followed by sleeping.
Now, we know that people are not completely honest when questions like this are being asked. Following the traffic feels like the right thing to do, affecting some respondents’ answers. If you are interested in finding more about this behavior, a book titled Dataclysm by Christian Rudder reveals our sneaky ways to answer what we believe is right, rather than what is true.
A widely reported crash of an autonomous vehicle (developed by Uber) and a woman crossing the street in the early 2018 in Arizona showed how the person sitting on the driver’s seat was focused on her mobile phone when the car hit the woman. Here is a dashcam video of the crash.
The only way to get real data and truthful answers would be to monitor what people actually do when they sit in a car driven by a computer long enough.
Renault Symbioz concept car video (view it below) has some ideas how passengers may experience a ride in a self-driving vehicle.