Finding a parking spot: What Americans want in self-driving cars

What if you had a self-driving car that could drop you off and find a parking spot or adjust how it drives based on weather conditions?

A new survey by Carnegie Mellon University finds Americans are looking for both features, even though younger and older drivers want far different features.

Millenials, those between 18 and 24 years old, are eager to have features that allow them to work or stay connected while driving.

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"Those who are younger see self-driving cars as a chance to take their world behind the wheel," said Donna Sturgess with the Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering.

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By comparison, the survey found baby boomers see self-driving cars as a chance to read or relax without having to actively control the vehicle.

"Boomers think riding in a self-driving car will be down time. They want to read and seem to have less interest in using technologies," she said.

Desired features

Overall, the survey of one thousand drivers found drivers of all ages have specific tasks or features they want in self-driving vehicles.

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  1. Self-adjusting performance based on weather conditions - 71 percent
  2. Self-parking to find a space - 60 percent
  3. Driver Fatigue Warning - 57 percent
  4. TV or Computer in the Dashboard - 52 percent
  5. Active Visual Display of Car Safety Features - 50 percent
  6. Virtual Valet where the car picks you up - 40 percent
  7. Voice Command for Visually Impaired - 34 percent

Millenials life on the go

The survey found Millenials are far more interested than baby Boomers in self-driving cars allowing them to stay connected to their world.

Sturgess calls it the desire for younger drivers to take their life on the go.

"Millenials see self-driving cars as a chance to take whatever they are doing and do it in the car. For them it's very much about multi-tasking." she said.

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By comparison, older drivers are less interested in multi-tasking while riding in a self-driven car.

Auto pilot cars in development

Almost every automaker, including General Motors, Audi, Tesla, BMW and others, is currently developing autonomous drive features they hope to incorporate into models within four to five years.

While it remains to be seen how quickly the industry will roll out completely self-driven cars, the first step in the direction will be auto-pilot features that should be in numerous vehicles by 2017.