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85% of British motorists would feel uncomfortable sharing their autonomous vehicle with others, research reveals

Renault CALLIE autonomous

While the majority of British motorists would feel comfortable in an autonomous vehicle, 85% would not want to share with other passengers, according to research.

The study, conducted by the government-backed Merge Greenwich consortium, examines public attitudes towards autonomous ride-sharing.

While more than eight out of ten survey respondents indicated a willingness to use autonomously controlled vehicles, focus group participants were more hesitant about sharing a journey in a small space with people they had never met before – 46% were comfortable with an autonomous vehicle service that involves ride-sharing.

Particular concerns expressed by participants included:

  1. Confusion about the ‘social rules’ of ride-sharing
  2. In a confined space, a sense that there could be an unwelcome need to talk to other passengers
  3. A lack of choice in where to sit, or stand – making it difficult to avoid individual passengers who cause concern
  4. A fear that an AV ride-sharing vehicle could be frighteningly isolated, without the safety in numbers or frequent stops of other forms of public transport

The consortium’s authoritative report sets out a series of recommendations aimed at helping mobility service providers overcome the concerns identified by the study.

Recommendations include advice on targeting services where they’ll most likely succeed such as areas which are under served by public transport modes, ensuring a visibility by design approach to vehicle specification in order to increase perceptions of personal safety, and providing customers with instant access to an authority figure either on board the vehicle or through remote connectivity.

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 year-long Merge Greenwich project will produce a blueprint for the successful roll-out of a commercial autonomous ride-sharing service capable of integrating with the public transport network.

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