When it comes to technology, drivers appear to prefer partially automated features that require...

When it comes to technology, drivers appear to prefer partially automated features that require them to stay engaged in driving.

Approximately 66% of drivers who preferred hands-on lane centering to a hands-free version said they would buy a vehicle with a hands-on version, but fewer than half said they would buy a hands-free version, according to a recent survey from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The survey explored consumer opinions about partial driving automation and focused on three common features: lane centering, automated lane changing, and driver monitoring. The findings indicate that drivers are interested in the technology but seem to favor partially automated features that require them to stay focused on the task of driving.

For example, lane centering and automated lane changing come in “hands-free” versions that allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel under certain conditions and “hands-on” versions that require their hands always be on the wheel. More drivers said they would prefer the hands-on version of both features.

More than half the surveyed drivers said they would be at least somewhat likely to purchase a vehicle with some form of automated lane changing if price was not an issue. Among those who expressed a preference for either driver-initiated or vehicle-initiated automated lane changing, most said they would want a hands-on version.

Noteworthy, drivers are open to being monitored while behind the wheel. Partial automation still can’t handle many common, real-world situations like approaching stopped vehicles and negotiating hills and curves. For this reason, partial systems need to monitor the driver to help ensure they remain ready to intervene if something goes wrong. Most systems use sensors in the steering wheel or driver-facing cameras for this purpose.

The survey indicates drivers are more concerned with safety as opposed to privacy issues. The majority of drivers said they would be comfortable with all three driver-monitoring strategies covered in the survey — sensors on the steering wheel, a camera tracking what the driver is doing with their hands, or a camera aimed at their face tracking where they are looking.

Respondents who were the most comfortable with all types of driver monitoring tended to say they would feel safer knowing that the vehicle was monitoring them to ensure they were using the technology properly.

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