Self-Driving Cars: How They Can Alter the Driving Experience

When looking at the future of automobiles, drivers don’t really have a place in it. Self-driving cars are already on their way to making this a reality. When people hear of autonomous vehicles, two things come to their minds. One is a futuristic movie scene where cars zip around by themselves and the other is how those vehicles will put millions of people out of work.

The truth could be found somewhere between those extremes. In fact, according to Statista, by 2025 the car market for partially autonomous vehicles is expected to reach $36 billion, while the market for fully autonomous ones lags behind at $6 billion.

Yet, contrary to what one may think, the driver remains a key factor. That’s why in this post we’re going to explore how exactly autonomous cars alter the driving experience and their overall impact on the automotive industry.


A couple of years ago, Audi teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering to explore how people will spend their time in autonomous cars. According to their research, the average driver spends around 50 minutes per day in their cars and they’d prefer a rather serene atmosphere without an influx of digital advertising. In other words, the task should be to create a car that acts like a smart membrane, where the right information reaches the user at the right time.

Another research shows that the average commuter spends 26 minutes a day getting to work, which means you waste 9 days a year in commuting. Now you probably wish you could have these days back. With the help of self-driving cars, you’ll have all of this time for yourself, as they liberate you from driving.

Self-Driving Cars Can Keep You Busy

Of course, how you’re going to spend your time in your futuristic autonomous vehicle, mostly depends on what it has to offer. All of the infotainment equipment you need will be built into the car.

However, the self-driving cars we have today haven’t reached level three on the autonomy scale yet. This means that the driver is still needed in his seat. As you still have to watch the road occasionally, the best way to spend your time in the current generation of autonomous vehicles is to use their multimodal in-car interfaces.

These are connected to software products and services and enhance the human-vehicle interaction and provide multiple options for spending any free time you might have in a self-driving car.

A great example is the head unit. It provides in-car internet access, audio, video, and navigation. Heads-up displays, on the other hand, make it easier to follow maps and overall conditions.

Keep in mind that powered by HMIs, connectivity, and IoT, self-driving cars look more like your smartphone than an actual car when we talk about functionality.

A Brand New Design

The fully autonomous cars that are expected in the near future clearly won’t need a passenger to remain in the driver’s seat. The design and interior of these cars would vary so much that even front seats might not be needed. Your sci-fi fantasies might actually come to reality.

Take a look at the Renault Symbioz for example. Its interior is fundamentally different than what we’re used to. In fact, it looks more like a futuristic designed living room, instead of a car. This new interior is another solution of how to spend your free time. The driving experience will turn into something that looks more like an at-home experience. You can use a bigger screen for work or leisure, or have a coffee with your companions while “driving”.

The fully autonomous vehicles will provide people with more free time, to catch up on activities they normally wouldn’t be able to. Actually, self-driving cars will be like an extension to your home, but on the go.

Safety Comes First

You can’t enjoy your free time if you don’t feel safe, right? Today, people are still skeptical about self-driving cars and they have a good reason for that. By October last year, the state of California had reported 49 autonomous vehicle collisions for 2018 alone. That’s a sign, there’s still a serious safety problem.

The driving experience won’t be that amazing unless manufacturers find a solution of the problem so that passengers can establish a trusting relationship with their AI-operated vehicles. This could happen only if they feel safe enough to relax and be sure that nothing threatens their lives.

To make that possible, HMI solutions are on their way. They will enable cars to inform passengers about all of their actions. That way people would be calmer and prepared for any motion. There will be virtual assistants, just like the one on your smartphone that will make the relationship between vehicles and passengers more personal.

A Driver Experience On A Whole New Level

Audi’s research that we mentioned above, divides out time in self-driving cars into three categories: productive, regeneration and quality time. Productive stands for working or learning. Your vehicle could be a great place for that, especially when it’s Wi-Fi equipped. You can also easily manage your schedule with the provided connectivity.

Self-driving cars finally give you the ability to use your phone while “driving” and we all know about our smartphone addiction. Another thing you could do is just take your time and relax, in whatever way that’s best for you, from napping to online shopping, you can do what makes you feel good, as in our fast-paced world that’s become almost impossible.

The “quality time” category depends on the HMI solutions that your potential vehicle provides. The personalized options can provide you with unique driving experience.

More Than Just a Vehicle

Modern cars offer more than just transport from point A to B. However, the self-driving ones will give us something really precious – time. They’re going to be more user-centric than you can actually imagine.

We spend a lot of time in our vehicles and we usually don’t realize it. The autonomous vehicles of the future will give us back our time, as well as the freedom to decide how we want to spend it. They will provide a whole new driving experience, that enables you to enjoy your trip, as if you’re chilling at home.