Publication Detail

Consumer Demand for Automated Private Travel: Extrapolations from Vanpool User Experiences


Research Report

Suggested Citation:
Bonanno, Nirupa, Daniel Sperling, Kenneth S. Kurani (1992) Consumer Demand for Automated Private Travel: Extrapolations from Vanpool User Experiences. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-93-22

The market potential of vehicle automation technologies will depend on the following characteristics: cost, safety, operating speed (bounded by legal, safety and environmental constraints), convenience of operation, door-to-door travel and other convenience measures, riding comfort and ability to use travel time for useful and/or pleasurable activities and finally, image. But private, automated passenger cars cannot be thought of in isolation, for they will compete with other travel modes – primarily the non-automated automobile. All the attributes of an automated private vehicle identified above, must therefore be compared with corresponding attributes of an automobile. The primary difference between an automated vehicle and the existing drive-alone mode, will be the elimination of many driving tasks. A future commuter's mode choice between an automated and a nonautomated vehicle may thus be characterized as a decision whether to drive or to ride. The purpose of this study is to investigate the reasons for an individual's decision to ride rather than drive, and to draw any appropriate extensions to a future marketplace where automated vehicles may be an available mode choice.

In order to establish the market potential for an automated vehicle, one must estimate the number of individuals who consider the improvements in all the attributes identified above to justify the greater cost of an automated vehicle. In our study we narrow the focus to a group of individuals who are currently making, or at least have a close knowledge of, some of these same trade-offs. These individuals are vanpoolers. The choice between drive-alone commuting and vanpooling will demonstrate this trade-off. However, some of the more important choice factors in this case are hard to measure and quantify – such as drive-alone cost and travel convenience for example. Therefore we decided to study the vanpool user's choice whether to drive or ride, after he or she had joined the vanpool. From the vanpoolers' stated choices whether to ride or drive their vanpool, we will infer whether a value may exist to future users of automated vehicles when they choose to travel in the automated mode, as opposed to driving themselves.

Elimination of the driving task may reduce physical and mental stress. In addition, travel time will be freed for other activities. We analyze this previously unexamined aspect of vehicle automation – that is, what are the benefits to the alternative uses of travel time? It should be understood that while it is possible that automated private vehicle travel may cause speedier or more efficient flows of vehicles, and therefore bring with it absolute travel time savings for an individual, we are not primarily concerned with estimating this benefit.