Carnegie Mellon Engineering

Carnegie Mellon Survey Reveals Millennials Self-Driving Car Preferences Are Miles Apart from Baby Boomers

February 16, 2015

Contact: Sherry Stokes
Carnegie Mellon University

PITTSBURGH—Millennials and baby boomers are miles apart in what they want in self-driving vehicles, according to a survey by the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. The survey, which polled 1,000 persons between the ages of 18 – 70, reveals that age seems to affect the features that consumers seek in self-driving cars and influence lifestyle changes as people gain more hands-free time in their vehicles.

Across all age groups polled, respondents identified the following features as those they would ideally like to see in self-driving cars:


Top Consumer's Picks

  1. Self-adjusting performance based on weather conditions
  2. Self-parking to find a space
  3. Driver fatigue warning
  4. TV or computer in the dashboard
  5. Active visual display of car safety features
  6. Virtual valet to avoid the rain (car picks you up)
  7. Voice command for the visually impaired

Although "self-adjusting performance based on weather conditions" was the overall top response, it ranked higher with people aged 36 to 70. The youngest respondents (18-24) and the oldest (66-70) at 64% were closely matched in wanting cars that can find elusive parking spots. When it comes to fancying a TV or computer in the dashboard, virtual valet and an active visual display of car safety features, 18 to 24 year olds want these options more than other age groups.

The survey also explores the differences between how boomers and Millennials would use their time in the car when freed from the steering wheel. People aged 18 to 24 ranked the highest in their proclivity to eat lunch and work in their cars. In fact, people under 35 opted the most (37%) to have their cars designed as an office. Interestingly, data revealed that the desire to work in cars lessened sequentially with increasing age. While Millennials indicate interest in working, they also showed the greatest affinity in cars designed to host great mobile parties.

So what else do people want to do in cars? Seniors aged 66-70 are most likely to read (51%), and those 18 - 24 are the second most likely to pick up a book. Respondents aged 25 to 35 are the most inclined to watch movies and put on makeup. Counterintuitively, while people routinely drink coffee on the go, only 8 percent of the people polled want coffee makers in their cars, and those most in favor of in-car java were 35 and under.

Regarding safety, higher percentages of drivers aged 46 to 70 consider these scenarios safer with self-driving technology: night driving, driving unfamiliar roads, navigating congested roads, merging traffic situations, and interstate travel. People under 35 think daytime driving and taxis would be made safer.

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

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