Large scale autonomy on the consumers’ side: challenges and opportunities of forecasting the demand for autonomous vehicles

Elisabetta Cherchi
Newcastle University

The large scale deployment of autonomous and connected vehicles poses a critical question related to whether, how fast and under which conditions, consumers will adopt this new technology. Studies on large scale implementation of autonomous vehicles rely generally on quite simple assumptions about the future demand, which makes any attempt to plan the future of our transport systems more challenging. Forecasting the demand for innovative and disrupting technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, represents one of the key research challenges of our time. Standard methods to predict transport demand are not suitable because they assume existence and stability of individual preferences for the product and its characteristics. Since preferences are formed over time and change with acquisition of knowledge and experience, it is very likely that vast proportion of the population does not have preferences for autonomous vehicles, or that their current preferences will change as the technology evolves and becomes more available in the real market.

This presentation will discuss challenges and opportunities of forecasting the demand for autonomous vehicles. It will focus on two key aspects. The problem of measuring and estimating individual preferences and will discuss the potentiality of new technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) to allow respondents to acquire experience and form preferences. The problem of dynamically simulate the adoption and diffusion of autonomous vehicles, which, as in most of the transport innovations, involves instrumental, economic, psychological and social dimensions.

Elisabetta Cherchi short bio:
Elisabetta Cherchi is Professor at the School of Engineering, Future Mobility Group, Newcastle University and Adjunct Professor, School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University, China. She is co-Editor in Chief of Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practise and past Associate Editor of Transportation, as well as member of the editorial board of Transport Policy, Journal of Choice Modelling, and Transportation Letter and past member of the editorial board of Transportation Research Part B. She is the past Chair as well as past Secretary and Treasurer of the International Association for Travel Behaviour Research (IATBR). She is member of the ADB10 TRB committee on Travel Behavior and Value and past member of the ADB40 TRB committee on Transportation Demand Forecasting and ADB50 on Transportation Planning Applications. Her research interest is in data collection, demand modelling, behavioural background of how individuals take decision and in exploring new ways to elicit and model the complexity of individual behaviour especially for emerging problems such as understanding what drives sustainable transport behaviour and how it can be promoted.

Presentation (PDF File)

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