Projecting Travelers into a World of Self-Driving Vehicles: Estimating Travel Behavior Implications via a Naturalistic Experiment

Automated driving technologies a recurrently penetrating the market, and the coming fully autonomous cars will have far-reaching, yet largely unknown, implications. A critical unknown is the impact on traveler behavior, which in turn impacts sustainability, the economy, and well being. Most behavioral studies, to date, either focus on safety and human factors (driving simulators; test beds), assume travel behavior implications (microsimulators; network analysis), or ask about hypothetical scenarios that are unfamiliar to the subjects (stated preference studies). Here the authors present a different approach, which is to use a naturalistic experiment to project people into a world of self-driving cars. The authors mimic potential life with a privately-owned self-driving vehicle by providing 60 hours of free chauffeur service for each participating household for use within a seven-day period. The authors seek to understand the changes int ravel behaviors as the subjects adjust their travel and activities during the chauffeur week when, as in a self-driving vehicle, they are explicitly relieved of the driving task. In this first pilot application, the authors' sample consisted of 13 subjects from the San Francisco Bay area, drawn from three cohorts: millennials, families, and retirees. The authors tracked each subject’s travel for three weeks (the chauffeur week, one week before and one week after) and conducted surveys and interviews. During the chauffeur week, we observed sizable increases in vehicle miles traveled and number of trips, with a more pronounced increase in trips made in the evening and for longer distances and a significant proportion of “zero-occupancy” vehicle miles traveled.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee ADB10 Standing Committee on Traveler Behavior and Values. Alternate title: Projecting Travelers into a World of Self-Driving Cars: Naturalistic Experiment for Travel Behavior Implications.
  • Authors:
    • Harb, Mustapha
    • Xiao, Yu
    • Circella, Giovanni
    • Mokhtarian, Patricia L
    • Walker, Joan
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2018


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References;
  • Pagination: 17p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01661041
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 18-06407
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Feb 23 2018 4:29PM