One major aspect influencing the adoption of automated vehicles (AVs) is the level of public acceptance surrounding them. In order to better understand this phenomenon, researchers at The Netherlands' Delft University of Technology performed a study that asked 119 respondents to take an automated vehicle ride in Berlin and surveyed them afterwards about their perceptions of the journey.
Participants were recruited from a list of former car-sharing projects and from an online meet-up group that was open to the public. The vehicle itself contained an operator who was presented to participants as a "minute-taker," to give the illusion that the vehicle was operating completely without human input.
As part of the post-trip survey, participants were asked to rate the driving behavior of the vehicle, as well as the quality of its interior and the comfort of the trip. They were also asked to rate their sense of safety for both themselves and other road users and the overall usefulness of the shuttle system. Ratings were given from 1 to 6, with 1 typically being the worst or least good and 6 being the highest rating.
Based on previous research, the authors noted that individuals' perceptions of the safety of AVs are increased with greater information on AV technologies and systems. Thus, they recommend measures to raise awareness of AV technology and safety measures.
The authors also found that AVs that communicated their intent and the state of nearby road users to their passengers were effective at mitigating safety concerns. Accordingly, they suggest that companies manufacturing or designing AVs install displays inside of them that provide information on the vehicle's current state and on the state of other road users.
Finally, the authors suggest that communications between AVs and other road users "behave like conventional vehicles" to ease interpretation and to limit the number of new signals that would have to be learned by road users.
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