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Consumer acceptance and travel behavior : impacts of automated vehicles : final report.
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  • Publication/ Report Number:
    PRC 15-49 F
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  • Abstract:
    This study provides a glimpse into the not-too-distant future by asking people in the general population how they would respond to the availability of self-driving vehicles, which might be on Texas roadways within a few years. Some elements of the technology are already available in vehicles today. Self-parking, adaptive cruise control, and automated braking are all available currently. In the near future, vehicles might take over driving completely. Transportation planners, researchers, and policy makers have a keen interest in how the market for such vehicles will develop. The big promise is their ability to reduce traffic accidents. The optimistic view is that such vehicles could also create smoother traffic flow and unlock existing capacity on roadways, meaning less road building. This is because intelligent, self-driving vehicles may drive more safely and efficiently than human drivers. If a fleet of self-driving cars could come to people when needed, it would mean less personal car ownership and fewer parking lots. The safety and productivity gains would bring significant economic benefits, but the potential societal benefits will not be achieved unless these vehicles are accepted and used by a critical mass of drivers. Consumer demand and technological development will determine the pace and scale of market development. The advent of self-driving vehicles could be truly transformative, but future acceptance and use are highly uncertain. Car ownership could change—people might own more or fewer vehicles. Residential spatial patterns could change—more people might live farther from or closer to downtown. The number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) could increase or decrease, depending on how, when, and why people use self-driving vehicles. Because self-driving vehicles are not yet present in the traffic streams, with the exception of a few test vehicles, it is difficult to reliably predict future consumer demand. Any purported outcomes are just theoretical at this point. Basic questions exist: - How likely are people to use self-driving vehicles? - What are the factors that influence acceptance and intent to use? - What is the appeal of self-driving vehicles for people? - In what ways would people change their current travel behavior because of access to self-driving vehicles? - How might self-driving vehicles on roadways impact traffic and congestion? Thus far, answers to these questions have come largely in the form of speculative future visions with little or no empirical evidence. This study begins to build an evidence base for transportation policy making and decision making. The information derives from an online survey and qualitative interviews with Austin metropolitan area residents in May and June 2015. The findings are representative of this sample only, which was a microcosm of Austin area residents.

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