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Study shows people don’t want to share autonomous vehicles

A recent study has shown that people in the UK are put off by the idea of sharing autonomous vehicles with other members of the public. 

The study captures findings from MERGE Greenwich to research public attitudes towards an autonomous vehicle ride-sharing service, the key motivations towards using such a service and how to overcome potential barriers to successful implementation. 

Current travel modes, decision-making criteria along with attitudes towards autonomous car technology, ride-sharing and the combined service offering were also analysed in order to develop the report. The report found that although the autonomous technology component was not in itself perceived by customers to carry many benefits, it was nonetheless felt to be the main element of excitement in the service design. Service providers who promote the innovative nature of the AV ride-sharing service, for example through cutting edge digital customer interaction on the App and inside the vehicle, are most likely to appeal to early adopters of technology. Focusing on this audience is, in turn, likely to encourage other customers to use the service once a tipping point of influencers is reached. This tipping point is generally considered to be 16% of the population, which gives AV ride-sharing operators a target market penetration for the launch phase of the service.

The first major concern for service-providers to address is the lack of perceived control over the journey (both around the journey route and shared occupancy), the second is the lack of trust in automation versus human decision-making when dealing with traffic and pedestrians and the third is the lack of an authority figure when sharing a confined space with strangers.

The report goes on to say “All of these fears can be somewhat alleviated or mitigated by emphasising the perceived benefits of the service offering. While there are many concerns surrounding the ride-sharing aspect of the service, it is also seen as an effective way to overcome current transport and environmental challenges.”

Merge Greenwich project manager and mobility lead at Addison Lee Catherine Hutt said: “It’s great that people are so comfortable with AV but clearly there are concerns about the etiquette of ride-sharing, which may be particularly acute in British culture. "As highlighted in today’s report, this is something we’ll need to address carefully in designing future transport services." The consortium led by Addison Lee and backed by the government called the will continue to look at how technology could transfer to the capitals busy and complex roads. The consortium plan to use traffic modelling and simulation mainly focusing on the Royal Borough of Greenwich to see how driverless cars could co-exist with current traffic.  

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