Would you get into an autonomous vehicle?

Argo AI autonomous test vehicle driving along a street

Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As they move from test tracks to city streets, automated vehicles (AVs) have the potential to revolutionize transportation and transform communities in ways large and small. Even as developers continue working to improve AV technologies, the impacts of AVs will largely be determined by whether and how people decide to use them.

What are individuals’ hopes and concerns when thinking about the future of transportation? Would AVs actually help or hurt people’s daily transportation experiences? Do people trust these vehicles enough to ride in them?

Autonomous vehicle companies, transportation planners, and policymakers are all working to plan for and shape the future of transportation. Understanding public preferences for AVs can help decision makers prepare for an autonomous future, directing AV impacts toward desired outcomes and away from undesired ones.

Research Questions

  1. What effects do people think AVs will have on the future of transportation?
  2. How comfortable are people with the idea of riding in an AV?
  3. Do public attitudes towards AVs vary by city?

To provide a platform for community members to engage with decision makers about AVs and to better understand public values and preferences for AVs, the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes (CSPO) at Arizona State University and the Paris-based Missions Publiques launched an unprecedented program of public consultation. The “Our Driverless Futures” project was part of an international collaboration led by Missions Publiques to bring together the voices of hundreds of individuals in public forums across cities in North America, Europe, and Asia. Informed, deliberative, and neutral, the forums generated critical information for decision makers to prepare for the future of autonomous vehicles.

The following video shares some highlights from the international project, including reactions from forum participants:

Source: Missions Publiques

In the United States, CSPO partnered with universities, local governments, federal agencies, and philanthropies to engage with members of the public and address issues of relevance for cities across the country. Using their Participatory Technology Assessment (pTA) Method of public deliberation, CSPO hosted four forums in Boston, MA; Washington, DC; Phoenix, AZ; and Buffalo, NY in Summer 2019. The four forums brought together over 300 individuals who represented cross-sections of their local communities.

How did the forums work?

For the U.S. forums, participants were recruited through email lists, social and traditional media, institutional partnering, and face-to-face canvassing and were offered an 100 dollar stipend for participating. Participants applied via an online application and about 100 individuals were selected from each city to represent the demographic diversity of their region. These individuals were sent educational information about AVs prior to the forums to brief them on how AVs work.