Consumers Expect to Use Mobile Devices, Read and Eat in Self-Driving Cars of Tomorrow

Carnegie Mellon University Survey Offers Top-10 List of Consumer Preferences for Autonomous Vehicles

PITTSBURGH--()--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

Males (59%) and females (59.2%) were almost matched in their desire to use mobile devices and eat lunch (male 53.3% and female 51.3%) while on the road. More men (39.6%) than women (30.1%) opted to watch movies. The data also shows that people 18-35 want to use mobile devices and play video games more so than older people.

The survey also examined new vehicle designs. The poll revealed that when people were riding in their cars, 71.8% wanted to remain connected digitally to their home.

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%

The survey reveals that people ages 25 to 45 and men (33.7%) more than women (30.5%) want their cars outfitted as an office. When it comes to having a car designed for a mobile party, not surprisingly, people 35 and younger are more receptive to this feature than baby boomers.

The college polled 1,000 people to gain insight into what consumers are looking for in self-driving cars. Carnegie Mellon, the birthplace of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology, has a 30-year history of advancing self-driving car technology for commercialization.

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.

About Carnegie Mellon University: Carnegie Mellon ( is a private, internationally ranked university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business to public policy, the humanities and the arts. More than 12,000 students in the university’s seven schools and colleges benefit from a small faculty-to-student ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real world problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A global university, Carnegie Mellon’s campus in the United States is in Pittsburgh, Pa. It has campuses in California’s Silicon Valley, Qatar, and programs in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Mexico.


Carnegie Mellon University
College of Engineering
Sherry Stokes, 412-268-5976

Release Summary

Carnegie Mellon University's College of Engineering has released a survey that details consumer preferences for self-driving cars, including a top 10 list of respondents' desired in-car activities.


Carnegie Mellon University
College of Engineering
Sherry Stokes, 412-268-5976