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.
Almost 90 percent of riders rated that they were "not at all worried" or only slightly worried about their own sense of safety while riding in the vehicle. However, only 54 percent gave similar answers regarding their perceptions of the safety of other road users around the shuttle.
Respondents indicated that they were likely to be more cautious about crossing the road in front of an automated vehicle, in some cases specifically citing their inability to make eye contact with a driver. While 13 percent of respondents indicated that they would willingly cross the road as a pedestrian in front of an automated shuttle, 23 percent said they would wait for the shuttle to pass first.
Pluralities of respondents said that they would appreciate primarily visual cues from the vehicle to indicate stopping, turning, and recognition of nearby road users, with approximately 45 percent support in each case. A majority (54 percent) said that they would prefer auditory cues from the vehicle to indicate that it will start moving. Respondents noted that overuse of sound cues could be distracting or annoying.
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