Hands off the wheel: US drivers warm towards autonomous cars

A new survey shows acceptance of autonomous vehicles is growing in the US.

US self-driving car
More drivers in the US are considering self-driving features in their next car, a new survey shows [File: Jeenah Moon/Reuters]

About 40 percent of adult drivers in the United States are leaning towards buying self-driving cars in the future as they look to snack, chat on their phone or catch up on email while the car drives itself, a survey by Adobe Analytics showed.

The survey of 1,040 US adults over the age of 18 revealed that drivers are ready for more self-driving cars on the road and have plans to make them an extension of their homes and offices.

While industry experts believe that it will be years before the auto sector reaches a point where vehicles can handle all aspects of driving in most circumstances with no human intervention, global carmakers and tech companies have already spent billions of dollars on vehicles that can drive autonomously.

Following the leads of US car giant General Motors Co, ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc and iPhone maker Apple Inc, South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor Group this month unveiled bold plans to invest in autonomous vehicles and other related systems.

The race for dominance is well under way. Alphabet’s Waymo and GM Cruise, backed by SoftBank Group’s $100bn Vision Fund, already clocked more than 25,000 kilometres (15,534 miles) of hands-free rides last year, according to a 2018 report by a California government agency.

Ride-hailing firm Lyft Inc has also said it will invest heavily in self-driving cars, while German carmaker BMW and Chinese online gaming giant Tencent Holdings have teamed up to launch a computing centre in China.

Drivers also seem primed for the revolution. Many drivers already factor whether a car has self-driving features into their buying decisions, the report by Adobe said, with more interest in connected cars than ever before, with support growing by over 35 percent in the last year.

Millennials are the most accepting of electric, hybrid and connected vehicles. Many drivers want to enjoy more leisurely activities like enjoying their favourite podcast or catching up on their favourite TV show while their cars drive themselves.

Source: Reuters