Behavioral Experiment to Simulate Life with an Autonomous Vehicle

Research Team: Joan Walker (lead), Mustapha Harb, Giovanni Circella, and Jai Malik

UC Campus(es): UC Berkeley, UC Davis

Problem Statement: To date, little is known about how travel will change with self-driving vehicles. The biggest difference in using a self-driving car, and arguably the feature that will cause the most change in travel behavior, is not having to be behind the wheel driving the car or having to be in the car at all as it travels from one place to another. Existing behavioral studies exploring this unknown future are limited because they either focus on safety and human factors rather than travel behavior, assume travel behavior implications, or ask about hypothetical scenarios that are unfamiliar to the subjects.

Project Description: This project will explore the potential impacts of self-driving vehicle deployment on travel patterns and behavior through a naturalistic experiment. Households in the greater Sacramento area will be recruited to participate in a three-week travel study. All travel during this time will be monitored and tracked. At the beginning of the three-week period, participants will take part in a one-on-one entrance interview to receive an overview of self-driving cars and share their attitudes toward self-driving cars. During the second week, participants will have access to a professional driver for a set block of time. Having access to a driver will relieve participants from the duty of personally driving or physically being in a car when the car is making trips, while maintaining the other aspects of owning a personal vehicle (e.g. fuel and other vehicle costs). Upon completion of the three-period, participants will take part in an exit survey similar to the entrance survey in terms of (re)asking about attitudes toward self-driving cars in addition to being asked about their experience with the simulated self-driving car experience. This experiment leverages a framework that has already been beta tested providing evidence of value.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $170,000

Project Partner(s): California Air Resources Board, Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, San Francisco County Transportation Authority, Sacramento Area Council of Governments, Caltrans, California Department of Motor Vehicles

Journal Article: Glimpse of the Future: Simulating Life with Personally Owned Autonomous Vehicles and Their Implications on Travel Behaviors
Policy Brief(s):
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