Self-driving vehicles offer an edge in terms of safety and mobility, but one of its biggest expected benefits is increased productivity of passengers freed of the burden of driving — or is it, asks a new study that also included a sample from India. To the question “What would people do when they are travelling in a self-driving car?”, researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle said that nearly 40 per cent of Indians said they would be so apprehensive that they would not attempt any activities in such vehicles.
“An average occupant of a light-duty vehicle spends about an hour a day travelling that could potentially be put to more productive use,” said Sivak, research professor at the University of Michigan
Transportation Research Institute. “Indeed, increased productivity is one of the expected benefits of self-driving vehicles,” he added from the university. But the study found that fear would preclude any productive activity among 40 per cent of those surveyed in India, while nearly 50 per cent of Indians said that, as they would not be involved in distracting activities, there is likely to be an increase in the frequency and severity of motion sickness. Of the 60 per cent who said they would take advantage of their travel time, about 10 per cent said they would read, 15 per cent would text or talk with family and friends, nearly 5 per cent would sleep, 12 per cent would watch movies or TV, 16 per cent would work and two per cent would play games.
Of those surveyed in the USA, 23 per cent indicated they would not ride in such vehicles, 36 per cent — a figure almost similar to India — said they would be so apprehensive in such vehicles that they would only watch the road. Further, nearly 8 per cent said they would frequently experience some level of motion sickness.
The study suggested that increased productivity in self-driving vehicles would materialise only after the confidence levels of the occupants rises. An occupant would be more interested in performing productive tasks while riding in such vehicles if the inherent motion-sickness problem is addressed and occupant-protection issues related to non-traditional seating positions and postures are solved. The researchers also noted that short-duration trips would help least in increasing the productivity.