There is great global interest in autonomous vehicles as a future means of transport. However, up until now there has been no available research data on user experiences. The first survey on passenger experiences of robot buses was published on 6 November 2017 in the renowned journal, Transport Policy.
The survey was conducted as part of the joint MaaS (Mobility as a Service) research project, financed by the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi, the Finnish Transport Agency and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. Arto O. Salonen, Research Director at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and Docent at the University of Helsinki, oversaw the project.
Regarding traffic safety, the driverless buses were perceived reliable
The research project involved the interviewing of 197 passengers riding on a driverless shuttle bus operating on a one-kilometre stretch between the Kivistö railway station and the Housing Fair in the City of Vantaa. The passengers perceived traffic safety to be better in the driverless shuttle bus than in a conventional bus with a driver in similar circumstances.
“We asked the passengers to compare their experience of travelling on a robot bus to that of travelling on a conventional bus. We were interested in traffic safety, personal in-vehicle security and the passengers’ possibilities to act in case of an emergency”, said Arto O. Salonen.
“The passengers’ assessed perception of traffic safety was better with the driverless shuttle bus than with a conventional bus in similar circumstances. On the other hand, the sense of in-vehicle security was not as good with the driverless shuttle bus as with a conventional bus. This was especially the case with female passengers. Considering emergency management, there were no significant differences between the types of buses.
In Finland, more than 200 road traffic fatalities occur every year. Traffic safety considerations facilitate the mainstreaming of the use of driverless shuttle buses, but female passengers’ sense of security on-board is diminished when a human driver is not present.
“The sense of personal safety can be improved. After all, we have got used to lifts operating without personnel”, said Arto O. Salonen.
Read the whole report: “Passenger’s subjective traffic safety, in-vehicle security and emergency management in the driverless shuttle bus in Finland”.