Higher-occupancy self-driving shuttles could bring about the benefits of vehicle automation—improved safety, parking cost savings, greater mobility to those who cannot drive, and stress relief for drivers. At the same time, these shuttles would not bring the potential drawbacks of self-driving vehicle ownership, such as increases in vehicle miles traveled and associated energy use. Because they can only currently operate in relatively simple and closed environments, self-driving shuttles are likely to be deployed earlier than personal self-driving vehicles in open road environments. However, acceptance of the new technology remains uncertain. Whether people will use these services will be largely influenced by their attitudes toward self-driving technology.
Researchers at the University of California, Davis surveyed residents and employees of the West Village area of the UC Davis campus during the three-month pilot deployment of a self-driving, electric shuttle to understand attitudes toward self-driving technology. The researchers then applied existing theories of technology adoption to model how attitudes of residents and employees influenced their acceptance of the shuttle service. This policy brief summarizes findings from that research and provides policy implications of self-driving shuttles.