Heriot-Watt University has created a study looking at the attitudes towards the use of autonomous vehicles.
The sample targeted 18-24-year-old, ride-hailing users who live in the United Kingdom. This group is believed to be the most frequent users of application-based taxi services, and they are likely to be the first to gain access to autonomous taxis.
Overall, attitudes towards AVs from this sample were positive. Looking closer into this question and in line with the role of gender, as identified in the literature review, male respondents held more positive attitudes than females.
This is evident through a cumulative 53.3% positive male attitudes, compared with 43.5% from female participants. Interestingly, however, female users were more likely to be “neutral” and males accounted for all “very negative responses”, suggesting that males were more polarised than females.
Perceived ease-of-use produced the second highest mean of 4.1060; suggesting this was an area that participants were comfortable. Perceived value was overall, slightly positive with a mean response of 3.5613.
Perceived safety elicited a broad range of responses. The most significant result came from the question ‘I think self-driving taxis will be safer than regular taxis’, which was the most negative mean of the study, scoring 2.81. This was due to 43% suggesting they ‘disagree’ or ‘strongly disagree’ with the statement and 33.1% unsure – only 23.8% responded positively.
This is a very important result as reducing road fatalities is one of the major anticipated benefits of AVs and it is, therefore, significant that this sample holds opposing beliefs.
The mean response for perceived risk was 3.4062 which suggests respondents feel there will be a risk to using self-driving taxis.
Attitudes towards technology were incredibly positive, receiving the highest mean score of 4.1291. Subjective norms received the lowest category mean of 3.1810, suggesting that individuals were undecided whether social influence would play a role in their decision to use a self-driving taxi. perceived behavioural control received a positive score with a mean of 4.0728.
In addition, this category received the lowest standard deviation, suggesting that the group were confident in their beliefs. Whilst intention to use received a slightly positive mean score of 3.32, this was a polarising question as is shown by a standard deviation of 1.061 and displayed visually below.
A cumulative 49.7% indicated they intend to use the service however a significant 22.6% would not – leaving 27.8% undecided.