American drivers warming to self-driving cars: Survey

(Reuters) - About 40% of adult Americans drivers are leaning more to buying self-driving cars in the future as they look to snack, chat on their phone or catch up on email while the car drives itself, a survey by Adobe Analytics showed on Wednesday.

The survey of 1,040 American adults over the age of 18 revealed that drivers are ready for more self-driving cars on the road and have plans to make them an extension of their homes and offices.

While industry experts believe that it will be years before the auto sector reaches a point where vehicles can handle all aspects of driving in most circumstances with no human intervention, global carmakers and tech companies have already spent billions of dollars on vehicles that can drive autonomously.

Following the leads of General Motors Co, Uber Technologies Inc and Apple Inc, South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor Group this month unveiled bold plans to invest in autonomous vehicles and other related systems.

The race for dominance is well under way. Alphabet's Waymo and GM Cruise, backed by SoftBank Group's $100 billion Vision Fund, already clocked more than 25,000 kilometers of hands-free rides last year, according to a 2018 report by a California government agency.

Lyft Inc has also said it will invest heavily in self-driving cars, while German automaker BMW and Chinese online gaming giant Tencent Holdings have teamed up to launch a computing center in China.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
GM GENERAL MOTORS CO. 33.74 +0.24 +0.72%
UBER UBER TECHNOLOGIES INC. 61.70 +0.72 +1.18%
AAPL APPLE INC. 195.71 +1.44 +0.74%
GOOGL ALPHABET INC. 134.99 -1.94 -1.42%
LYFT LYFT INC. 13.21 +0.78 +6.28%

Drivers also seem primed for the revolution. Many drivers already factor whether a car has self-driving features into their buying decisions, the report by Adobe said, with more interest in connected cars than ever before, with support growing by over 35% in the last year.

Millennials are the most accepting of electric, hybrid and connected vehicles. Many drivers want to enjoy more leisurely activities like enjoying their favorite podcast or catching up on their favorite TV show while their cars drive themselves.

Interactive graphic on top activity picks while in a self-driving car

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)