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Journal Article


Hilgarter K, Granig P. Transp. Res. F Traffic Psychol. Behav. 2020; 72: 226-243.


(Copyright © 2020, Elsevier Publishing)






Autonomous vehicles (AVs) can potentially compensate for human error whilst driving. Thus, the number of accidents and the amount of congestion, emissions and fuel consumption could be reduced. For such reduction to occur, insights into public acceptance of AVs must be considered because they are a crucial factor for the successful implementation of AVs in existing traffic systems.

This study aims to explore (1) the mobility behaviour of current passengers, (2) the perception of the public of how AVs can be applied, (3) the perceived challenges of AVs in terms of integration into existing traffic systems, (4) the general attitude of the public towards AVs and (5) the perceived safety of passengers after riding an autonomous shuttle with a maximum SAE level of 3 in the setting of mixed traffic.

This qualitative study was conducted in Carinthia (Austria) in September 2018. Interviews were conducted with 19 participants aged between 20 and 75 years. The participants were recruited through purposeful sampling, and data were collected through in-depth, semistructured interviews which were recorded, transcribed, organised and analysed using systematic, qualitative content analysis.

Results show that transport mobility plays an important role in social life. In rural areas, AVs can shift transportation modes from private cars to public transportation. The respondents perceive AVs as an alternative more than as a substitute for existing means of transportation. With the integration of AVs into existing traffic systems, the transportation of goods and people could be improved despite related uncertainties. This study explores different aspects of societal, technical, legal and economic challenges. Overall, the respondents feel positive about AVs. Responses regarding safety show that experience with AVs and speed are key factors.

This study is one of the first to explain qualitatively public perceptions of AVs after an actual ride in an AV under real-life conditions. The results, which help understand AVs from the public's perspective, may also provide guidelines for the successful integration of AVs in Austria.

Language: en


Autonomous vehicles; Concerning; Driverless car; Mobility behaviour; Public perception; Urban, rural


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