Publication Detail

Exploring the Role of Attitude in the Acceptance of Self-driving Shuttles


Research Report

National Center for Sustainable Transportation

Suggested Citation:
Xing, Yan, Susan L. Handy, Giovanni Circella, Yunshi Wang, Farzad Alemi (2020) Exploring the Role of Attitude in the Acceptance of Self-driving Shuttles. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-20-20

Self-driving vehicles, as a revolution in mobility, are emerging and developing rapidly. However, public attitudes toward this new unproven technology are still uncertain. Given the significant influence of attitude toward a new technology on the intention to use it, the question arises as to why some people are in favor of this technology whereas others are not. Additionally, questions about the key attitudes influencing self-driving technology acceptance, where these attitudes come from, and how they interact with each other have not yet been addressed.

This study aims to explore these research questions based on data collected from people who live or work in the West Village area of the University of California, Davis, campus after a self-driving electric shuttle was piloted in this area. structural equation modeling was employed to explore interactions between attitude elements. The results show that affect—i.e., liking or enthusiasm for self-driving shuttles—strongly explains the acceptance of self-driving technology. A higher level of affect could be formed by strengthening an individual’s trust. Additionally, trust works as an important mediator between perceived risk, usefulness, and ease of use on both affect and intention to ride self-driving vehicles. Perceived risk captured more security and functional concerns, reflecting uncertainty around current self-driving technology. The model identified important bi-directional influences between trust and affect. Significant effects of mental and physical intangibility were also shown, but each works differently on cognitive beliefs. Individuals’ socio-demographic, lifestyle, and mobility characteristics also exert influences on attitude and self-driving technology acceptance.

Key words: Self-driving shuttle, acceptance, attitude, affect, structural equation modeling