Will Self-Driving Cars Make Us More Productive?


Will Self-Driving Cars Make Us More Productive?

The average American spends about 25.4 minutes commuting to work, about an hour a day on the road. When self-driving vehicles become widely available (around 2020) commuters may find themselves with at least an extra 4.23 hours a week. (Find the average commute time in your area right here. I could potentially find myself with an extra 5.8 hours a week!) It’s as if we can finally squeeze more hours out of our day, but will self-driving cars really make us more productive?

Not so, says the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Their report “Would Self-Driving Vehicles Increase Occupant Productivity?” found that for 62% of Americans, self-driving vehicles would likely not result in increased productivity. The reasons?

  • 36% would be so apprehensive they would only watch the road
  • 23% would not ride driverless vehicles
  • 3% would frequently experience some level of motion sickness

For the remaining 38% who would take advantage of this free time:

  • 11% would read
  • 10% would text or talk with family and friends
  • 7% would sleep
  • 6% would watch movies or television
  • 5% would work
  • 2% would play games

We launched our own poll on Twitter to gauge whether drivers embrace the idea of being passengers in driverless cars. Even the results of our own not-so-scientific poll were surprising.

Only 21% of respondents are interested in becoming full-time passengers in autonomous vehicles, even after the tech has been widely adopted. Yikes!

Self-driving vehicles would likely not make us more productive.

Motion Sickness in Self-Driving Cars

Motion sickness is a big factor of whether driverless car passengers can be productive. Observer reported on a different study released by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute which broke down which activities people were most interested in engaging while in a self-driving car. Almost all of the activities worsen the frequency and severity of motion sickness. The chart below is an excerpt of the study as published by Observer.

Will Self-Driving Cars Make Us More Productive? motion sickness chart

Until we can solve the motion sickness problem, self-driving cars will not make us more productive.

What do you think? Can we be productive passengers in self-driving cars? Or, will we just simply look out the windows as we are chauffeured to our destinations? Tell us in the comments below.

More About Self-Driving Cars

Want to know more about self-driving cars? Some further reading:

Answering Every FAQ About Driverless Cars
How Will Driverless Cars Impact Auto Insurance?
Can Humans Be Trusted With Driverless Cars?