Autonomous Cars: Drivers Want to Keep Their Hands on the Wheel

Are you interested in autonomous driving? The arrival of cars without pedals or steering wheel is imminent, but you can already enjoy a hands-free experience in the driver seat of some vehicles currently on the market.

But according to a new survey by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), in the United States, most people want to keep driving with their hands.

“The automakers assume that drivers want the greatest amount of technology possible in their cars, but is it really the case? Faced with the lack of studies on the question, we’ve decided to make our own investigation,” says IIHS research scientist Alexandra Mueller.

The current systems allow for semi-autonomous driving but have trouble dealing with some situations that are not that complex, and that’s why the driver still needs to monitor what’s going on and be ready to take control when a problem occurs. Cameras in the cabin and sensors in the steering wheel are used to address that issue.

Photo: Ford

Yes, drivers are interested in this kind of technology, but they seem to favour systems that still require them to operate the vehicle, according to the IIHS.  

For example, more people who answered the survey said that they prefer using lane keeping assists and automated lane change systems while keeping their hands on the wheel rather than letting it go. Moreover, a strong majority likes to change lanes themselves when they want instead of having a computer do it for them.

Many also say that the hands-free lane keeping assist is likely to make their driving more stressful. Some of those who think otherwise and trust technology—maybe a little too much—say that they would use the free time to accomplish other tasks while driving, which shows how misunderstood the capacities and limitations of the current-day semi-autonomous driving are, reports the survey.

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