Autonomous Rail Technologies: Diffusion, Risk Perception & Public Acceptance

This article explores the risk perception and acceptance among the general public of technological advances in autonomous freight railroad operations. The author contends that public comfort with some involuntary exposure to this aspect of freight operations is critical for the railroads as they work to transition to autonomous operations. This in turn may have an impact on the regulatory agencies, who are sensitive to public fears and safety concerns regarding any new technologies. The author presents a review of the literature, considering factors that affect diffusion of and risk tolerance for new technologies. The author then discusses the extent to which new technologies, particularly Internet of Things (IoT) technologies including positive train control (PTC), can become a strategy for further advances. The article outlines recommended steps for railroads to undertake, namely: inform and educate, initiate public relations, build an inclusive coalition, encourage experimentation, renew intellectual capital, pursue additional safety-enhancing technologies, and work with other transportation modes on autonomous operation.


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01708076
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 18 2019 3:21PM