Oh, for the days when cars will drive themselves! No more mirror-signal-manoeuvre, no more parallel parking or worrying about breaking the speed limit - the car will take care of it all for you.


At least, that’s one scenario that future autonomous vehicles could deliver. But if self-driving cars become a reality, what would we do with all the extra spare time they would give us?


Research from Ipsos has provided some answers to this question by asking 130,000 car owners in nine countries what they would do with the extra time a fully autonomous vehicle would allow them.


Drivers in the US spend up to 52 minutes a day commuting, and those in Germany and Britain also spend close to 50 minutes in their cars on weekdays, a figure that rises to more than an hour for Spanish motorists. Ipsos asked motorists across Asia, Europe and North America how much time in an hour’s commute they would devote to certain pursuits.


Image: Statista


By far the largest amount of time - 22 minutes in North America and Europe, and 16 minutes in Asia -- would still be spent watching what is happening on the road, respondents said.


The second most popular activity was personal communications, such as phone calls and emails, with Asian respondents willing to devote 15 minutes, North Americans 14 and Europeans 17 minutes out of their imaginary hour to keeping in touch with friends and family.


Perhaps surprisingly, sleep was not high on the agenda of hard-pressed and stressed workers on any of the three continents: North Americans said they would spend six minutes snoozing, Europeans five and Asians 10.


Meanwhile, any hopes that employers and government economists may have that commuters will spend the extra time closing the productivity gap by doing extra work are likely to be dashed. Across all three regions, respondents said they would only spend five minutes of their hour engaged in work activities, including writing emails and other communications.


Commuting time, it seems, is still valuable “me time” for the world’s workers. The driverless car is unlikely to change that.


Adam JezardFormative Content