There is an expectation that autonomous vehicles (AVs) will ease traffic congestion in our communities. But as these technologies are gearing up to be rolled out, engineers, scientists, and leaders at the city, state, and national level must understand the various deployment issues related to AVs. One of these issues is how to assess how people with disabilities (PwDs) will feel interacting with this new technology. Understanding what helps or limits PwDs to accept AVs is important for accepting such technologies—which may help to estimate its effects on mitigating congestion.
Dr. Sherrilene Classen, professor and chair of the UF Department of Occupational Therapy and her research team at UF, including Dr. Virginia Sisipoiku at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, will be obtaining and analyzing information on the perceptions (i.e., thoughts, values, beliefs, and attitudes) of a cohort of PwDs as it relates to accepting automated shared mobility services. This data will be compared to that which has already been collected from another STRIDE study related to older and middle-aged drivers. The PwDs in this study will complete surveys on evaluating acceptance, readiness, and perceptions prior to, and then after riding in a Level 4 (SAE Guidelines) automated shuttle.
This project will identify the predictors of user readiness, willingness, optimism, and innovativeness of AV technology acceptance. This information on adoption, design, and utilization strategies is critical to stakeholders, such as industry partners, designers, city planners or policy makers.
“We anticipate that the probable predictors of accepting automated shared technologies may be related to the perceptions of increased safety, increased trust, and increased intention to use –as found in our published prior work,” she added.
The data will also shed light on the main effects and the interactions effects, including the predictors of acceptance and adoption practices across the groups (PwDs, older drivers, middle-aged and younger drivers). Additionally, it is expected that the qualitative data analysis will point to possible solutions for overcoming barriers and identify facilitators for the AV technology acceptance and adoption practices of older, middle-age, younger drivers, and PwDs. Such findings will also inform automated shared mobility service deployment policies.
Dr. Classen and her team plan to share the adoption practices of the groups with transportation engineers, city planners, policy makers, and other professionals including students and the general public. The researchers expect that the study findings will expand standard clinical practice for occupational therapists and driver rehabilitation specialists.
“Our findings may influence city planners and automated shuttle manufacturers to improve deployment strategies, and to encourage the disability/aging and general community to accept, adapt, and use the automated shuttle,” she said. “They will also contribute to identifying potential American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance issues and providing recommendations, through our published manuscripts, to resolve those.”