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Expectation and Experience: Passenger Acceptance of Autonomous Public Transportation Vehicles


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Passenger acceptance is a key factor for the successful integration, uptake and use of autonomous vehicles (AVs) in the domain of public transportation. Especially knowing opinions and attitudes around safety, comfort and convenience. We discuss a pilot study conducted as part of a larger research project where AVs are being tested to transport members of the general public on a specified route with designated stops. We present preliminary findings of fieldwork conducted where people were asked their opinions and attitudes both before and after riding on an AV shuttle as a passenger for the first time. This allows us to compare user expectation beforehand with actual experience afterwards.
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Expectation and experience: Passenger acceptance of
autonomous public transportation vehicles
Grace Eden1, Benjamin Nanchen1, Randolf Ramseyer1, Florian Evéquoz1, 2
1University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland, HES-SO, 3960 Sierre, Switzerland
{grace.eden, benjamin.nanchen, randolf.ramseyer,
2University of Fribourg, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland
Abstract. Passenger acceptance is a key factor for the successful integration,
uptake and use of autonomous vehicles (AVs) in the domain of public transpor-
tation. Especially knowing opinions and attitudes around safety and comfort.
We discuss a pilot study conducted as part of a larger research project where
AVs are being tested to transport members of the general public on a specified
route with designated stops. We present preliminary findings of fieldwork con-
ducted where people were asked their opinions and attitudes both before and af-
ter riding on an AV shuttle as a passenger for the first time. This enabled us to
compare user expectation beforehand with actual experience afterwards.
Keywords. Autonomous vehicles, Public transportation, Human-Machine In-
teraction, Passenger acceptance, Fieldwork.
1 Introduction and background
Autonomous passenger vehicles are being piloted across the globe to assess both their
technically and operationally feasibility. In June 2016, PostBus, the primary public
bus transportation provider in Switzerland and the Mobility Lab Sion-Valais joined
together for a pilot study, the Sion Smart Shuttle. The project began in a cordoned-off
private area from December 2015 to Spring 2016. However, once government ap-
proval was granted in June 2016, the testing was moved on to public roadways and
dual use vehicle/pedestrian areas. This phase of the pilot will run until October 2017.
In this project commercial and academic partners collaborate to develop novel mobili-
ty services. In parallel with technical development, understanding customer behaviour
and acceptance of the AVs and in particular passenger reactions to riding on the shut-
tle is also being investigated. This paper presents preliminary findings of a pilot case
study as part of a larger project where we also investigate how other road users inter-
pret AV behaviour [1] as well as passenger attitudes and opinions of the AV Shuttle.
In this pilot study we took an approach of conducting interviews with passengers both
before and after riding on the shuttle to provide us with an opportunity to compare
user expectation beforehand with actual experience afterwards.
2 Understanding passenger opinions of AV public transport
The Sion Smart Shuttle is the first pilot project of AVs on public roads in Switzerland
and operates on a route of 1.5 kilometers in the Old Town district of the city. After
months of refining and stabilizing the technical aspects of the AVs mapping and sen-
sor operations to ensure safety, the first passenger acceptance pilot study commenced
over a one-month period from November-December 2016 with an aim to understand
passenger opinions of AV public transportation.
The AV Shuttle can hold up to 11 people with an attendant on board monitoring, and
at times taking over, its operation. We conducted nine fieldwork sessions with partic-
ipants who agreed to be interviewed and to take a ride on the AV shuttle. The study
included 17 passengers: 3 individuals, 4 couples, and 2 groups of three. In addition,
the sessions were also video-recorded using two mounted action cameras: one with an
interior view of passengers and the other with an exterior view of the road ahead
Fig. 1. Two mounted action cameras record passenger and road activity simultaneously.
The fieldwork had three components. First, participants were briefly interviewed be-
fore riding the shuttle and asked to describe their initial expectations including per-
ceptions of safety, comfort and any other feelings and opinions. Second, we conduct-
ed video-based observation [2] of participants’ actual journey on the shuttle. Third,
after riding on the shuttle we conducted a post-ride interview with the same questions
to compare if and how their opinions may have changed. Even though our intention
was to analyse the video data for passenger interactions, we discovered that it has
been more valuable for understanding how other road users interpret the intentions of
the AV and how the AV communicates those intentions to other road users [1]. The
findings discussed here are taken from the pre and post ride interviews with a focus
on passengers’ opinions related to safety and their satisfaction of the AV’s comfort
and convenience.
2.1 Opinions about safety
Before riding on the AV shuttle 4 participants expressed safety concerns because of
news reports of a recent accident in September 2016 [3]. The shuttle hit the fender of
a stationary van while in autonomous mode. Fortunately, there were no injuries as a
result of the collision although the fact that it happened made some people uneasy.
Others expressed concerns related to the reliability of breaking and turning. Finally,
the technology in general was brought into question as one participant noted: I don’t
trust it much because something could go wrong with the IT system. You go on it but
you don’t trust it 100%”. Even so, the 13 remaining participants said they had no
concerns before riding on the shuttle primarily because of its very slow speed (maxi-
mum of 20km). Also, many had experience with other types of driverless transporta-
tion such as driverless metro trains at airports. Even though these are on guided tracks
some people still felt that this experience was in some way similar.
After riding the shuttle all participants who had safety concerns beforehand no longer
had them afterwards. These overall positive opinions were encouraging. Although,
many passengers commented that seatbelts are necessary especially because the AV
lurches forward when it makes sudden hard stops. It frequently does this when it de-
tects an ‘obstacle’ such as a pedestrian, car or bicycle passing close by. Many partici-
pants said they were impressed with the automated navigation, including its steering
ability through narrow spaces. Although participants responses were positive, there is
an important caveat: most agreed that their perception of safety might change (safety
concerns would increase) if it was a large-sized bus with no attendants on board trav-
elling on an actual route at regular speed.
2.2 Satisfaction with comfort and convenience
Another key factor to passenger acceptance is comfort and convenience. The shuttle’s
large panoramic windows were received positively because of the wide view it pro-
vides to the outside world. However, most participants said that the comfort of the
seats could be improved because they were too hard and that seatbelts are needed to
prevent people from lurching forward during sudden hard stops. Additionally, 4 par-
ticipants commented that the noise from the hydraulic compressor was too loud.
Many participants commented on its small size saying that it would need to be larger
to accommodate luggage and shopping bags.
Regarding convenience, all participants said that the current route was not practical
because it is in a largely pedestrian area of the old town that people prefer to walk
through. Rather, many said that they would like to use it for more practical journeys
such as from the train station, the local airport, or the park and ride. This feedback
indicates that there is acceptance of the AVs as a potentially useful addition to the
public transportation network for smaller routes that may not be served by large bus-
es. Additionally, many participants wanted to become more involved in the project.
For instance, by adding a social media component that would allow them to share
their experience online with their friends and family. Also, some suggest that an in-
formation sheet be available explaining the technology and how the AV operates.
3 Discussion and further work
This brief pilot study has provided valuable information related to perceptions of
safety and scalability. We discovered that in this regard, scaling up to real-world sce-
narios presents challenges to perceptions of safety that need to be considered in future
designs. For instance, current large public transportation buses hold up to 60 people in
14 rows or more. Perhaps the interiors could be redesigned to facilitate trust in some
way? Also, in all likelihood the on board attendant will continue to be necessary at
least for the foreseeable future. Trade-offs between perceptions of safety and practi-
cality were also identified. Many participants said that the speed is slow enough to
feel secure but too slow to go to work in the morning.
To explore possible future interactions with AV public transportation we will conduct
participatory design workshops with passengers. In particular, we are interested in
designing new ways of maintaining passenger trust by providing greater transparency
of the AV decision-making process and the choices it makes around obstacle detec-
tion, braking and steering. Initially we will explore a mobile application or dedicated
interface inside the bus where passengers can monitor these activities. We will also
generate ideas around new interior bus configurations. Finally, lessons learned for the
project include the value of conducting fieldwork in three phases: pre and post ride
interviews enable us to compare attitudes before and after. The video presented the
team with new and unexpected research questions related for improving the commu-
nication of AV intentions. Furthermore, the participatory design workshops will facil-
itate the co-design of new communication and interaction mechanisms.
4 References
1. Grace Eden, Benjamin Nanchen, Randolf Ramseyer, and Florian Evéquoz. 2017. On the
Road with an Autonomous Passenger Shuttle: Integration in Public Spaces. In Proc.
CHI’17, Denver CO, New York: ACM Press, pp. 1569-1576.
2. Christian Heath, Jon Hindmarsh, and Paul Luff. 2010. Video in Qualitative Research: Ana-
lysing social interaction in everyday life. London: Sage.
... Then, in Sections 4-9, papers will be analyzed based on the type of employed robot (see, Fig. 1), and a description of the most relevant works will be provided: due to space limitation, we will only describe the most representative papers of the specific category, selected based on number of citations and publication venue. We will analyze how perceived safety in pHRI has been studied for industrial poly-articulated manipulators , indoor mobile robots [51][52][53][54][55][56][57][58][59][60][61][62][63], mobile manipulators [64][65][66][67][68][69][70], humanoid robots , drones [105][106][107][108][109][110][111][112][113][114][115][116][117][118][119][120], and autonomous vehicles [121][122][123][124][125][126][127][128][129][130][131][132][133][134][135]. Section 10 will report general considerations on factors determining perceived safety, experimental duration and location, and the connection with safety standards. ...
... However, one of the required conditions for the successful integration of AVs is their acceptance by various road users. Therefore, research works investigating perceived safety of AVs can be categorized based on who the road user was: a driver that has to give away control [121,122,126,127], a pedestrian that has to make road-crossing decisions [123,124,128,129,[131][132][133], a passenger of a shared public transport [125,134,135] or the driver of another vehicle [130]. ...
... Although the validity of the experiments is higher when real AVs were used (such as Uber AV [129], the Sion Smart Shuttle [125], the automated shuttle "Emily" from Easymile [134], the Connected Autonomous POD on-Road Implementation (CAPRI) Shared Autonomous Vehicle shuttle [135], and Chevy Bolt [130]), several works utilized driving simulations (such as a National Advanced Driving Simulator [121], a BMW Series-6 simulator [122], a motion-based driving simulator at the Wuerzburg Institute for Traffic Sciences (WIVW GmbH) [126]), videos of real cars [127,131,132], virtual environment [133], and ordinary cars controlled in a Wizard-of-Oz fashion [123,124,128]. ...
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This review paper focuses on different aspects of perceived safety for a number of autonomous physical systems. This is a major aspect of robotics research, as more and more applications allow humans and autonomous systems to share their space, with crucial implications both on safety and on its perception. The alternative terms used to express related concepts (e.g., psychological safety, trust, comfort, stress, fear, and anxiety) are listed and explained. Then, the available methods to assess perceived safety (i.e., questionnaires, physiological measurements, behavioral assessment, and direct input devices) are described. Six categories of autonomous systems are considered (industrial poly-articulated manipulators, indoor mobile robots, mobile manipulators, humanoid robots, drones, and autonomous vehicles), providing an overview of the main themes related to perceived safety in the specific domain, a description of selected works, and an analysis of how motion and characteristics of the system influence the perception of safety. The survey also discusses experimental duration and location of the reviewed papers, and the connection between perceived safety and safety standards.
... Moreover, the users might perceive the AV's driving style as more aggressive, as it might result in excessive, unexpected head and body motion. On the other hand, the excessive reduction in the speed as a measure to mitigate MS can negatively affect traffic [9], but most importantly comfort and acceptance, while the user's dissatisfaction might also increase due to the longer travel times [10,11]. In recent literature, the focus has been the minimum time solutions either for lap time simulation cases [12] or minimum cornering of passenger vehicles [13]. ...
... where Λ consists of terminal costs that are not considered in this work, while the second term will represent motion sickness by incorporating the MSDV xy , as illustrated in Equa-tion (9), in the definition of the cost function. Therefore, Equation (30) will be transformed into Equation (31): ...
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Automated vehicles are expected to push towards the evolution of the mobility environment in the near future by increasing vehicle stability and decreasing commute time and vehicle fuel consumption. One of the main limitations they face is motion sickness (MS), which can put their wide impact at risk, as well as their acceptance by the public. In this direction, this paper presents the application of motion planning in order to minimise motion sickness in automated vehicles. Thus, an optimal control problem is formulated through which we seek the optimum velocity profile for a predefined road path for multiple fixed journey time (JT) solutions. In this way, a Pareto Front will be generated for the conflicting objectives of MS and JT. Despite the importance of optimising both of these, the optimum velocity profile should be selected after taking into consideration additional objectives. Therefore, as the optimal control is focused on the MS minimisation, a sorting algorithm is applied to seek the optimum solution among the pareto alternatives of the fixed time solutions. The aim is that this solution will correspond to the best velocity profile that also ensures the optimum compromise between motion comfort, safety and driving behaviour, energy efficiency, journey time and riding confidence.
... Research on AVs mainly focuses on technological aspects. Some studies deal with public AVs and passengers' acceptance in general (Eden et al., 2017;Ramseyer et al., 2018). Another study deals with the potential of AVs for tourism destinations and the elements that could hinder a destination from integrating them . ...
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Worldwide, more than one billion people live with disabilities. People with disabilities (PWD) have needs in terms of autonomy, social participation and inclusion. Mobility is one condition for them to be included in society and participate in social life. Autonomous vehicles (AVs) can be part of the concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) that enables us to rethink the policy of mobility. However, the way these new autonomous mobility services are designed could exclude PWD. To prevent that, universal design principles and inclusive design could help policymakers and public transport companies design new means of transport that are accessible to all. However, perceptions of PWD regarding MaaS in general and AVs are not well documented. This article presents qualitative research about these perceptions. Eight semi-directive interviews were thus carried out on the subject. Based on these findings, we developed an integrative model to accompany and orchestrate such AV design developments. This integrative model will help policymakers and public transport companies rethink mobility concepts while incorporating AVs and make them accessible to ensure the social inclusion of PWD.
... While many studies investigate people's perceived safety in relation to AVs, few do so with passengers that have experienced a ride in an AV [21][22][23], even though a physical experience of a shuttle ride might be important to overcome flawed expectations and misconceptions [24]. Therefore, some studies [4,[25][26][27][28] started to assess passengers' attitudes and experiences with AVs after giving them the opportunity to experience driverless vehicles. However, the ride in the AV was either conducted with a steward [4] or with a Wizard of Oz setup (i.e., a human driver was operating the vehicle in a concealed manner [26]). ...
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This study investigates the perceived safety of passengers while being on board of a driverless shuttle without a steward present. The aim of the study is to draw conclusions on factors that influence and contribute to perceived safety of passengers in driverless shuttles. For this, four different test rides were conducted, representing aspects that might challenge passengers’ perceived safety once driverless shuttles become part of public transport: passengers had to ride the shuttle on their own (without a steward present), had to interact with another passenger, and had to react to two different unexpected technical difficulties. Passengers were then asked what had influenced their perceived safety and what would contribute to it. Results show that perceived safety of passengers was high across all different test rides. The most important factors influencing the perceived safety of passengers were the shuttle’s driving style and passengers’ trust in the technology. The driving style was increasingly less important as the passengers gained experience with the driverless shuttle. Readily available contact with someone in a control room would significantly contribute to an increase in perceived safety while riding a driverless shuttle. For researchers, as well as technicians in the field of autonomous driving, our findings could inform the design and set-up of driverless shuttles in order to increase perceived safety; for example, how to signal passengers that there is always the possibility of contact to someone in a control room. Reacting to these concerns and challenges will further help to foster acceptance of AVs in society. Future research should explore our findings in an even more natural setting, e.g., a controlled mixed traffic environment.
Introduction A recognised potential benefit of autonomous vehicles is increased mobility for older adults. However, this group is more apprehensive about adoption, which may hinder uptake. Shared autonomous vehicles (SAVs) represent a use case that may be especially relevant for older people due to emerging applications in retirement villages and similar precincts. However, little research has examined the SAV-related concerns of older adults and strategies to address them. This study used an exploratory approach involving SAV exposure to identify strategies that may increase older people’s receptiveness to SAVs. Method Older adults living in retirement villages (n = 63) were interviewed while interacting with an SAV to examine their needs, expectations, and concerns regarding SAVs. The interview data were coded and thematically analysed. Results Participants recommended the following approaches to ensuring SAVs are useful and acceptable to older adults: providing physical accessibility for those with mobility impairments, comfortable and practical internal layouts, and operating SAVs on convenient routes at useful speeds. Strategies such as exposing older adults to SAVs in operation to encourage uptake and initially ensuring a human assistant is present were suggested methods of increasing receptivity. Discussion The findings suggest older passengers are likely to share many of the same reactions to SAVs as the broader population, but with a stronger focus on issues relating to accessibility and the physical layout of the vehicles. The solutions to these issues suggested by the study participants may be useful for those designing SAVs for use in older people’s settings and beyond.
Public transport is considered as one of the most suitable candidates to benefit from autonomous driving technologies. In this research, we develop a mathematical modeling framework to optimize service frequency and vehicle size for automated bus systems, while accounting for both user and operator costs. We explicitly consider travel time stochasticity, time-dependent passenger flows, vehicle capacity limitations (extra waiting time due to denied boarding), and in-vehicle discomfort externalities for both sitting and standing passengers at a microscopic level. We attempt to provide a thorough assessment of the service and cost implications of the deployment of automated buses. Hence, a broad range of experiments are simulated by combining different deployment cases: (i) vehicle technology (human-driven or automated vehicles), (ii) travel time assumptions (deterministic or stochastic travel times), and (iii) crowding externalities (considering or ignoring in-vehicle crowding costs). The model applicability is assessed on two real-world bus corridors in Regensburg (Germany) and Santiago (Chile). Results show that, with crowding externalities, optimal vehicle size is increased at a similar rate for both human-driven and automated bus services, whereas optimal service frequency is increased at a higher rate for automated buses. Thus, under optimal levels of supply, automated vehicles are operated with lower occupancy levels than human-driven vehicles, increasing the quality of service. Besides, the deployment of automated bus systems can significantly alleviate or eliminate denied boardings. The effects of automation on travel time volatility and dwell time regularity are studied. The consideration of stochastic travel times increases optimal frequencies at a higher rate for automated services relative to human-driven vehicles. Interestingly, we find that even though the operator benefits from automation are more pronounced in high-income countries (due to a greater potential for human driving cost savings), the final outcome is counterbalanced by the actual public transport demand level, because large user cost savings from automation are reachable in crowded routes even in situations in which labor costs are lower (as in developing countries).
The aim of this study was to understand passengers’ continuance use intention with respect to autonomous buses (ABs) based on actual riding experience. Therefore, an extended technology acceptance model taking characteristics of both autonomous driving and buses into account was proposed, and 576 passengers with ABs riding experience in China responded to the survey. Several findings were revealed. First, characteristics of buses (including perceived in-vehicle safety, service quality and general attitudes toward buses) had positive effects on continuance use intention. Second, perceived road safety was not directly associated with continuance intention but had positive effects on perceived usefulness. Third, two significant moderating variables were revealed, namely, past bus riding habits and driver reliance (i.e., the degree to which passengers considered it important for ABs to have a driver). These observations suggest practical implications for policymakers and automakers.
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Recently some US cities have launched pilot driverless shuttle programs, testing driverless shuttles on their roads. Using data collected in April 2020 from respondents in eight US cities, four with pilot driverless shuttle programs and four non-pilot control cities, we investigate the factors associated with residents’ attitudes towards driverless shuttles. We use confirmatory factor analysis to construct four latent variables representing respondent attitudes: safety confidence, software security concerns, technology familiarity and interest, and preference for human control. Then, we estimate levels of adoption using a structural equation model-based multigroup analysis. We find that individuals in pilot cities not only demonstrate greater acceptance of driverless shuttle programs but also have different determinants of acceptance compared with those in non-pilot cities. Notably, the effects of local transit access on driverless shuttle acceptance vary between pilot and non-pilot cities. These findings provide early insight into how driverless shuttles may be accepted by the broader population and what factors may influence the effectiveness of driverless shuttles as public transportation over the long term.
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After collecting qualitative data from in-depth interviews, focus groups, or field observations, students and researchers often struggle to make sense of it. This step-by-step guide draws on the authors' many years of experience carrying out qualitative research and conducting trainings on the subject. Their book describes how to analyze qualitative data in a systematic and rigorous way. The authors introduce and outline applied thematic analysis, an inductive approach that draws on established and innovative theme-based techniques suited to the applied research context. Chapters follow the sequence of activities in the analysis process and also include discussions of mixed methods, choosing the most appropriate software, and how to write up and present the results. "This book presents what all of the books I've tried to use in the past have failed to present—how to analyze qualitative data."—Catherine C. Schifter, Temple University "This book does a wonderful job of explaining how important thematic analysis is for producing good research, and it uses rich and detailed examples to do it."—Matthew Hartley, University of Pennsylvania
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