A 12-month Government-backed study, carried out by a consortium led by Addison Lee Group, Merge Greenwich, looked at the potential for autonomous vehicle (AV) ridesharing to reshape urban transport.
Customer research found 85% of respondents would be willing to use AVs, believing the vehicles would be safe and appropriately regulated by the time they were available as part of a public service.
However, only 46% said they would be willing to use a ride-sharing service regularly.
While this is still a significant number, the relative reluctance to share is underpinned by concerns about privacy, personal security and the social rules of being with strangers in a confined space with no driver. Women, in particular, had concerns.
Public education, appropriate vehicle and service design as well as the option to have an on-board ‘steward’ should be considered as ways to overcome these concerns.
The research indicates that a business model where more vehicles are shared has still got some way to go before people would accept it.
The consortium was keen to highlight the potential consumer and social benefits if this model could be achieved.
The benefits are dependent on a number of factors, including a fall in the cost of vehicles and the right customer pricing to ensure appropriates shifts from other modes of transport.
It claims that in some scenarios, reductions of up to 43% can be achieved in travel times between homes and existing public transport hubs such as tube and rail stations, saving a commuter 3.5 days a year.
In addition, thousands of unneeded car parking spaces could be repurposed as journeys requiring parking dropped by up to 38%.