Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Robocabs: The mobility of the future?


Study on user acceptance for autonomous mobility concepts

Even if the technology has as yet only been tested in prototypes on test routes, autonomous driving will apparently be possible in the near future. How exactly do potential users envision such vehicles? And how high is the level of public acceptance?

Positioning of various robocab mobility concepts.

© Fraunhofer IAO

The Robocab study, performed by Fraunhofer IAO and the Institute for Social-Ecological Research ISOE with the support of the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), provides insights into international survey results.

Only a few years ago, the topic of autonomous driving was almost exclusively of concern to automobile manufacturers, software companies and automotive component suppliers. In the meantime, the once futuristic vision of the self-driving car is close to being realized, and autonomous driving has become a subject of public debate.

The technology is becoming more and more attractive to potential users, even if in most cases it is still not directly accessible for use. For the most part, however, it isn’t clear how we can actually envision these vehicles, referred to as robocabs, in concrete terms. And the expectations and reservations on the part of potential users are equally uncertain.

Societal acceptance is decisive for success and popularity

The Robocab acceptance study was conducted jointly by researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO in Stuttgart and the Institute for Social-Ecological Research ISOE in Frankfurt. It sheds new light on the user’s point of view regarding automated forms of transportation and evaluates acceptance levels for various implementation concepts. In addition to preferences for vehicle equipment and configurations, the main focus of the study was user acceptance.

“The potential success of a new form of mobility depends on whether or not users find it attractive and whether or not the price is right. Today societal acceptance is for the most part determined by the question of whether or not the new technology fulfills the criteria of sustainability,” says ISOE mobility researcher Konrad Götz.

Accordingly the scientists set out to create an analytical-scientific basis that reflects and delineates the conceivable spectrum of autonomous vehicle concepts and evaluates them in terms of acceptance. In order to collect user perspectives, quantitative surveys of approximately 2,400 participants in Germany, China and the USA were conducted in combination with qualitative interviews of selected test subjects.

Expectations placed on robocabs closely tied to intended use

The results of the study show that respondees are very open to the mobility concept of the robocab and approach the notion with interest and curiosity. “They expect a practical and convenient mobility solution that gets them from point A to point B in an environmentally friendly, efficient and safe manner,” says Maximilian Werner from Fraunhofer IAO. He adds that on the whole acceptance is highest in China, followed by the USA and then Germany.

“In Germany, robocabs are regarded more as a supplement to the means of transportation currently in use, while in China they are even seen as replacing current modes of transportation. It’s interesting to note that survey participants in the USA and in China mainly see robocabs as an alternative to conventional taxi services, while in Germany responses indicated that they might even compete with buses and trams,” says Werner.

The findings didn’t enable a generic vehicle concept for the robocab to be identified; it was more often found to be the case that the specific requirements placed on vehicle characteristics, body and equipment vary according to the respective intended use. Those surveyed regard autonomous vehicles not as a status symbol, but rather as a reliable, practical and swift means of transport.

“For the most part those surveyed see robocabs as a kind of taxi or car-sharing vehicle operating primarily in urban areas and less on long-distance trips,” Werner adds. “However, rural areas should be integrated in the transportation network in order to offer a new and attractive alternative to private cars in those areas where public transportation services are scarce.”

In general the results indicate high levels of acceptance for convenient vehicle concepts. Such concepts are particularly appealing to those users who have in the past had a negative attitude towards public transportation because of the inconvenience involved and the lack of comfort and privacy. For them, robocabs represent a kind of convenience shuttle service as an alternative to using their private vehicles. Such larger, high-end but nevertheless practical vehicles could be utilized efficiently in semi-public ride-sharing models.

Advantages for people, transportation and the environment

In addition to expanding the available spectrum of mobility, eliminating the search for parking, greater flexibility and permanent availability were cited by those surveyed as the most convincing factors in favor of using robocabs. “Since the autonomous vehicle can adapt flexibly to requirements and at the same time enables optimum utilization of capacity due to the possibility of carrying multiple passengers, users also expect traffic in general to become more optimized and more efficient,” says Götz.

“The respondents also expect that user groups such as teenagers below the legal driving age and senior citizens who are no longer able to drive will now have the possibility to move about independently, flexibly and comfortably.” Nevertheless, some did express reservations about the idea of entrusting their own children to a robocab.

Furthermore, autonomous mobility concepts are perceived as particularly sustainable because the survey participants tended to assume that they involve electric or hybrid vehicles, equipped with batteries with sufficient range for short trips and easy to recharge using existing infrastructures. In summary, respondents expect robocabs to place less of a burden on the environment and provide a viable alternative to other forms of urban transportation.

Event: In-depth insights into the study and recommendations for policy-makers, industry and service providers

The results of the Robocab study and the derived recommendations for the automotive industry, mobility service providers, for the public transportation sector and for government institutions will be presented at the event “Autonomous Mobility Concepts for the Urban Spaces of Tomorrow” (in German), to be held on July 9, 2019 in Stuttgart.

The event will provide a comprehensive look at the essential elements of the urban infrastructure needed to provide autonomous mobility services that are both ecologically sound and serve the needs of the population. Presentations will also be given by leading mobility experts from the research sector, the automotive industry and municipal authorities.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Maximilian Jakob Werner
Mobility Innovation
Fraunhofer IAO
Nobelstraße 12
70569 Stuttgart
Phone +49 711 970-2307


Juliane Segedi | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht ECG procedure indicates whether an implantable defibrillator will extend a patient's life
02.09.2019 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Fracking prompts global spike in atmospheric methane
14.08.2019 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The working of a molecular string phone

Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Potsdam (both in Germany) and the University of Toronto (Canada) have pieced together a detailed time-lapse movie revealing all the major steps during the catalytic cycle of an enzyme. Surprisingly, the communication between the protein units is accomplished via a water-network akin to a string telephone. This communication is aligned with a ‘breathing’ motion, that is the expansion and contraction of the protein.

This time-lapse sequence of structures reveals dynamic motions as a fundamental element in the molecular foundations of biology.

Im Focus: Milestones on the Way to the Nuclear Clock

Two research teams have succeeded simultaneously in measuring the long-sought Thorium nuclear transition, which enables extremely precise nuclear clocks. TU Wien (Vienna) is part of both teams.

If you want to build the most accurate clock in the world, you need something that "ticks" very fast and extremely precise. In an atomic clock, electrons are...

Im Focus: Graphene sets the stage for the next generation of THz astronomy detectors

Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology have demonstrated a detector made from graphene that could revolutionize the sensors used in next-generation space telescopes. The findings were recently published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy.

Beyond superconductors, there are few materials that can fulfill the requirements needed for making ultra-sensitive and fast terahertz (THz) detectors for...

Im Focus: Physicists from Stuttgart prove the existence of a supersolid state of matte

A supersolid is a state of matter that can be described in simplified terms as being solid and liquid at the same time. In recent years, extensive efforts have been devoted to the detection of this exotic quantum matter. A research team led by Tilman Pfau and Tim Langen at the 5th Institute of Physics of the University of Stuttgart has succeeded in proving experimentally that the long-sought supersolid state of matter exists. The researchers report their results in Nature magazine.

In our everyday lives, we are familiar with matter existing in three different states: solid, liquid, or gas. However, if matter is cooled down to extremely...

Im Focus: World record for tandem perovskite-CIGS solar cell

A team headed by Prof. Steve Albrecht from the HZB will present a new world-record tandem solar cell at EU PVSEC, the world's largest international photovoltaic and solar energy conference and exhibition, in Marseille, France on September 11, 2019. This tandem solar cell combines the semiconducting materials perovskite and CIGS and achieves a certified efficiency of 23.26 per cent. One reason for this success lies in the cell’s intermediate layer of organic molecules: they self-organise to cover even rough semiconductor surfaces. Two patents have been filed for these layers.

Perovskite-based solar cells have experienced an incredibly rapid increase in efficiency over the last ten years. The combination of perovskites with classical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Society 5.0: putting humans at the heart of digitalisation

10.09.2019 | Event News

Interspeech 2019 conference: Alexa and Siri in Graz

04.09.2019 | Event News

AI for Laser Technology Conference: optimizing the use of lasers with artificial intelligence

29.08.2019 | Event News

Latest News

Low sea-ice cover in the Arctic

13.09.2019 | Earth Sciences

Researchers produce synthetic Hall Effect to achieve one-way radio transmission

13.09.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Penn engineers' new topological insulator reroutes photonic 'traffic' on the fly

13.09.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>