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  • Image Credit: Volvo
Volvo recently conducted a survey of some 10,000 respondents around the world regarding autonomous vehicle technology. And what they found is that customers still want a steering wheel – and more importantly, the ability to use it – even in a vehicle that can drive itself.

According to the Swedish automaker, an overwhelming majority of 92 percent of respondents said that the driver should be able to take control of an autonomous vehicle at any given time. That means Gothenburg's self-driving cars are going to need a steering wheel and pedals if the company is going to convince a hopeful but skeptical public that it's safe to transition to autonomous transportation.

The company's Concept 26 proposes a retractable steering column that withdraws out of the way when not in use and extends when needed, and a driver's seat that transitions between three positions depending on the degree of the occupant's engagement. The time it would take to put the driver back behind the wheel in case of an emergency, however, might undermine a the public's willingness to surrender control. That is, at least, in the initial phase while autonomous vehicles gain traction, so to speak. Together with Ericsson, the automaker also announced at CES this week the development of improved on-board broadband streaming technology to keep occupants entertained while not driving.

Among other findings from the company's Future of Driving survey, Volvo found that 88 percent of respondents said that autonomous vehicles must "respect the love of driving," while 78 percent believe that autonomous vehicles would improve their commute. All but 10 percent of respondents said an autonomous vehicle should be able to pass the same driving test that a human driver does. And 81 percent believe that the manufacturer (not the driver/occupant) should be responsible in case an autonomous vehicle should crash.

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CONSUMERS SAY THEY WANT A STEERING WHEEL IN AUTONOMOUS CARS

10,000 respondents worldwide have provided their insight into Volvo's Future of Driving survey, the largest online conversation to date focused on autonomous driving. The results highlight what consumers currently want from autonomous cars and how they will embrace the technology.

Based on the latest analysis of responses, Volvo has found:

- 92 percent of respondents believe that people should be able to take control of autonomous cars at any moment
- 81 percent of people agree that car manufacturers, not car owners, must take responsibility if an accident occurs when a car is driving autonomously
- 90 percent feel that autonomous cars should be able to pass a human driving test
- While 88 percent of people think that technology in autonomous cars should respect the love of driving, 78 percent also believe that technology in autonomous cars will make their time traveling more useful and worthwhile

The data supports Volvo Cars' work toward a future that enables drivers to better use the time spent in their cars during daily commutes, whether that is relaxing, watching movies or enjoying the luxury of driving.

"People have told us that they need to feel in control and have the choice of when to delegate driving to the car. Today, that need is ultimately fulfilled with the presence of a steering wheel," said Anders Tylman-Mikiewicz General Manager of the Volvo Monitoring & Concept Center, "Therefore, a steering wheel is necessary until those needs change."

Volvo is working toward innovations and features like Sensus Connect, Intersection Auto Brake and Run Off Road Protection, and Pilot Assist all available on the all new XC90. Additionally, Volvo Concept 26, the first autonomous driving interior build on a vehicle platform available for sale today, demonstrates a new way of thinking about how autonomous vehicles will integrate into daily life and how they can offer customers the freedom to delegate driving and better utilize their travel time.

"With Concept 26, we shared part of our long-term vision for fully autonomous cars. Now we're focused on future solutions and collaborations to deliver the best in car experience for people using these autonomous vehicles," continued Tylman-Mikiewicz. "Imagine a highway of autonomous cars, each filled with people relaxing, enjoying their favorite TV shows in high-definition, or catching up on work. It's exciting to think about."

Today at the 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Volvo Cars also announced it is expanding its online conversation about autonomous driving to global participants so that everyone can have a say on the Future of Driving.

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