Americans Like AVs — If They Can Still Eat and Drink

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Countries that are serious about driving don’t understand the American penchant for in-car dining. But maybe they’ll catch up when autonomous vehicles dominate their roadways.

  • The majority of Americans say they don’t want an autonomous vehicle.
  • But acceptance goes up when told they could eat, drink or text safely.
  • BMW hints there could be more passionate opportunities, as well.

Like it or not, autonomous vehicles are coming. Tesla is promising an update of its Autopilot system before year-end enabling virtually hands-free driving, and Waymo is just one of many companies already testing self-driving ride-share vehicles on public roads.

Not everyone is pleased by the idea. “The general public doesn’t seem to want” the technology, said Doug Betts, the general manager of Global Automotive for J.D. Power and Associates, a new study finding that, on a scale of 0 to 100, self-driving vehicles scored a mediocre 38.

But, as with most surveys, how people respond depends on how you ask the question. And when Adobe Analytics raised the subject with 1,000 Americans, the results were a bit more positive. While still not a solid majority, it found a growing number of motorists like the idea of what they could do in an autonomous vehicles.

Nearly half, 49 percent to be precise, like the idea of being able to eat or drink without having to worry about keeping eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

Distracted driving is a major concern, catching blame for over one in 10 fatal car crashes. So, the idea of being able to safely – and legally – use a smartphone clicks with the public, according to Adobe’s Future of Driving Report, 47 percent saying they’d use the opportunity to chat on the phone, 42 percent saying they’d compose e-mails or send texts.

Traffic adds hundreds of hours to our annual commuting time, so 36 percent of those surveyed said they’d take the opportunity to work while riding in an autonomous vehicle – though another 30 percent said they’d prefer to catch some extra sleep. Other popular options included reading and listening to music or watching videos.

(Chart: Adobe Analytics)

Not surprisingly, Millennials seem the most comfortable with the idea of riding in autonomous vehicles, according to both the J.D. Power and Adobe Analytics survey.

There’s one possible activity missing from the Adobe study. Perhaps researchers were too prudish to ask. But a recent video promoting BMW’s iNext concept vehicle gets the idea across. A young couple leave a nightclub passionately embracing before getting into the autonomous prototype. While it won’t earn an X rating, the video clearly suggests there are yet other options for what you can do without a steering wheel to get in the way.


The majority of Americans are still skeptical about self-driving vehicles. But they like the idea of being able to do things like eat, drink, drive or catch some extra ZZZs if they don’t have to do the driving.

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