As driverless cars become more capable and more common, they will change people’s travel habits not only around their own communities but across much larger distances. Our research has revealed just how much people’s travel preferences could shift, and found a new potential challenge to the airline industry…
In our study, we showed people trips of different lengths and asked them to choose whether they would rather drive themselves, take a flight or ride in a self-driving car. In general, the data indicated that people always preferred driverless vehicles over manual driving. Taking a driverless car got even more attractive if people were told that after flying, they would need a rental car in their destination city.
On short trips, with a five-hour drive, two-thirds of people would rather drive themselves. That didn’t change much when they were offered a self-driving car, unless they were told they would need a car in their destination city. Then nearly three-quarters of people preferred a self-driving car to flying.