Car-sharing with automatic functions and modern self-driving shuttles, heroes of the tests scheduled by the PAsCAL project in Luxembourg
Roadmaps on automation put a lot of emphasis on shared mobility technologies. However, still little is known about the attitudes towards future sharing schemes. Within the European project PAsCAL, the pilot “Shared connected transport” studied attitudes and perception of “drivers” and passengers toward two different shared connected vehicles: an autonomous shuttle and an electric vehicle of a shared car fleet with autonomous features.
The goal of this pilot is to better understand attitudes and public acceptance to different kinds of shared vehicles and to various associated incentives.
This study allows operators of shared fleets to optimally design and operate fleets of shared vehicles and design well-suited incentive mechanisms to increase public acceptance and improve attitudes towards different kinds of shared vehicles.
Set-up of the test drive
The pilot was organised at two different locations in Luxembourg and was divided into two sub-pilots: one relating to car-sharing services and one to collective transport.
During the shared car fleet sub-pilot, the employees of the University of Luxembourg and Campus Contern, which already have a fleet of shared vehicles available, were asked to drive a shared vehicle with autonomous features (level 2 automation) on the open road in a real test environment. This allows them to drive as close to the reality as most of the participants take the same route every day to travel to their work place, including traffic. In addition, they were asked to provide relevant information in form of a survey on their driving experience. The vehicles of this shared fleet were provided by Moovee, a car shared fleet operator based in Luxembourg. Both private organisations are clients of Moovee and offer their employees the opportunity to use a shared vehicle for their trips during their working days. The experiment took place during two weeks in November 2021 on an open road in the Belval area, which is located in the South of Luxembourg, close to the French border. An additional wave was organised during two weeks in March 2022 in Contern, with employees working within or around a business campus (Campus Contern) close to Luxembourg city. The sample size of the sub-pilot consisted of 103 participants.
For the autonomous shuttle bus sub-pilot, an autonomous electric shuttle was used which is operated by Sales-Lentz within a business/industrial zone around Campus Contern. The shuttle is a Autonom Shuttle Evo model provided by the manufacturer of the vehicle, Navya. The experience and knowledge of the bus operator Sales-Lentz with both public and private clients is a strong added value and permits to understand how passengers and public administrations consider CAV as a potential solution to their mobility challenges. Participants were asked to ride an autonomous shuttle in Contern in April/May 2022 on a pre-defined roundtrip on an open road. The trip is about 2km long and connects the train station with the business campus. The participants could choose to use the shuttle either in the morning, from the train station to their workplace, or in the afternoon, from their workplace to the train station. The sample size of the autonomous bus shuttle was 51 participants.
Main results of the pilot:
The two sub-pilots allowed to make a comparison between the different type of users (drivers and passengers) of the two different transport modes (car and shuttle).
Considering the expectations and feelings of the participants during their drives, as they result from the answers given to the questionnaires, it appears that most of the participants who have over 10 years of driving experience, barely felt confident. Most of the participants indicated that they felt careful, followed by curious and trustful while using the car and the autonomous shuttle. Based on the observations made during the trials, it can be added, that especially those participants who already have used a CAV before, were trustful and felt safe. Most of the drivers and passengers felt positively surprised of the experience or their experience was as expected.
For those participants, who had their first experience driving a vehicle with autonomous features, it was an unusual experience, and it took a bit more time to get used to use the autonomous features and to trust the vehicle. With a bit more practice and time, participants would trust the vehicle even more and they would quickly get used to use autonomous feature during their commuting trips.
Most of the participants see as a benefit of using autonomous features an increased safety, however, they also see as a shortcoming the higher price to include and use autonomous features in a vehicle and in shared services. When asked if the participants are willing to use CAVs and related services , more than half of the participants answered that they would be willing to use CAVs and a shared fleet composed of CAVs. However, also a lot of participants mentioned that their use will depend on how technology evolves. When asked if they would be willing to pay more, most of the participants answered no or that it depends on the evolution of the technology.
Besides the participants who already used autonomous features before the test drives, people are open to use them in the future and would make the effort to adapt to new technologies and new mobility services.
Learnings & Recommendations
The pilot provides knowledge to shared fleet and bus operators to adapt their services and integrate new technologies and CAVs in their fleets. Autonomous features can be associated with more safety or more comfort and thus represent an added value for their service offer. However, it needs to be considered, that users are not directly willing to pay more to use autonomous features. If the operator includes new technologies in his service offer, it also means that it must increase its budget for having a vehicle with autonomous features in the fleet. These test drives allow the shared fleet operator Moovee and the transport operator Sales-Lentz to study their user´s needs or potential new user´s needs. It allows them to promote their services and improve their future services based on the opinions of the test drive users.
Almost all of the participants of the shared connected transport pilot travel each working day to their workplace, which is located over 15km away from their home. Most of the persons who participated in the pilot, drive by car to work. Therefore, it was even more of importance to present the participants the possibility of a shared connected transport service. A CAV service like a shared connected car fleet or an autonomous shuttle for their last-mile trip would allow the employees to use the shared services instead of using their own car. However, it needs to be considered that for now it would only be possible to use this service as an addition to the use of public transport or own car. Employees can use the shared car if they urgently need a car or have to do a business trip. The shuttle can be used as a last-mile transport mode, which connects in this case the working place with the train station 2km far away.
The promotion of the use of shared modes of transport, as the analysis of the Luxembourg Pilot concludes, is an important aspect to get persons motivated to use these kind of services. There is a need to make CAV shared services more attractive. Companies and public authorities should provide affordable and attractive alternatives to privately owned vehicles. Therefore, public campaigns and service providers need to highlight the advantages of shared solutions (e.g., no maintenance cost for users, no search for parking slots due to circulating systems, better utilization of each vehicle, reduced emissions). Once people become aware of the multiple ways shared CAVs could benefit our society, their attitude towards CAVs in general should become more positive. A shift to shared modes of transport would not only significantly reduce emissions, but also reduce the costs per trip significantly. It would decrease the perceived and self-reported stress for users. Affordable and flexible access to a vehicle should increase the acceptance for CAVs as a technology.
Another important aspect is the integration of shared CAV services with public transport. To reduce the number of cars, especially privately owned-and company cars, it is needed to design CAVs and CAV services to serve first/last-mile connections to public transport in high demand areas, and to provide on-demand and door-to-door service in low demand areas. Shared CAV services should integrate instead of compete with public transport, including (CAV) bus and rail. Such integration can make CAV services more accessible for users, both in terms of service availability and cost, while also contribute to sustainable mobility. It can also help enhance public acceptance of CAVs and encourage people to try the CAV services. Ultimately, this can help enhance public transport service quality, stimulate patronage and revenue, and reduce car dependence.
Finally, it should be emphasized that new mobility services like shared connected fleet services are using technologies that provide different mobility services to users, which replace the users’ privately owned or leased vehicles. The services offered depend on several features, which includes:
- the length and duration of the trip: in case of the integration of CAVs in a shared fleet, the length of the trip can be more comfortable than in an usual car, by using the autopilot for longer trips.
- the payment method: after the usage of shared connected car, the payment will directly be booked from the account created by the user.
- the booking and vehicle access method: a booking platform can be made available, in which the users can reserve a vehicle for a specific time. The car can be easily accessible via the use of company badges or via a mobile application, so no need to exchange keys.
- connection between different mobility services: different transport modes can be connected, like for example the users can use an autonomous shuttle which connects the train station with their working place and if needed they can use the shared car in their company fleet to do short or long business trips during their working day.
- help and support: help and support can be easily offered remotely by offering a helpdesk/support service to clients.
- data privacy and security.
These features all combined can be integrated in a MaaS (Mobility as a Service). This allows users (in this case employees) to get a complete and turnkey mobility solution without any management constraints.