Cross-National Focus Group Response to Autonomous Vehicles

The development of autonomous vehicles (AVs) is advancing quickly in some enclaves around the world. Consequently, AVs exist in the public consciousness, featuring regularly in mainstream media. As the form and function of AVs emerge, the attitudes of potential users become more important. The extent to which the public trusts AV technology and anticipates benefits, will drive consumer willingness to use AVs. Broadly, public attitudes will determine whether AVs can attract public investment in infrastructure and become a feature of the future transport mix or fail to realize the potential their developers assert. As part of UK Autodrive, a program trialing the introduction of AVs in the United Kingdom, researchers conducted focus groups in five UK cities, and a comparison focus group in San Francisco (December 2017 to September 2018) using representative samples (total n = 137). Focus group facilitators guided discussions in three areas considered central to usage decisions: trust in the technology, ownership models, and community benefit. This paper describes findings from a quasi-quantitative study supported with qualitative insights. This research provides three key takeaways centering on trust in the technology and in delivering benefit. First, some participants gain trust through experience and others through evidence. Second, participants had difficulty discriminating between AV developers, indicating a need for industry cooperation. Third, partnerships were found to demonstrate trust, highlighting the need for more and deeper partnerships moving forward. Generally, participants had positive attitudes toward AVs and expect AVs to provide benefits. However, these attitudes and expectations could change as AV development progresses.


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  • Accession Number: 01766932
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Mar 9 2021 8:53AM