Trust but Communicate: Implicit and Explicit AV Communications on Pedestrians’ Trust during a Real-World Experiment

Project Abstract/Statement of Work:

Despite the potential benefits of autonomous vehicles (AVs), public skepticism due to safety concerns remains a major barrier to their widespread adoption. This skepticism helps us understand why trust is a vital precursor to the promotion and acceptance of AVs. Trust is particularly important in the context of AVs and pedestrians for several reasons. First, unlike drivers, pedestrians have not made a conscious decision to subject themselves to the AV. Second, the interactions between pedestrians and AVs have the potential to lead to frequent small errors that could lead to accidents. Even in cases where small errors do not lead to major accidents, they are likely to degrade the driver’s and the non-AV road user’s confidence in the AV and lead to public mistrust. Mistrust in the AV can lead to underutilization or even complete abandonment of the AV.

To address this issue, we plan to leverage our work from the Year 1 TRI grant “Trust, Control and Risk in Autonomous Vehicles.” Our Year 1 preliminary results show that participants could statically differentiate between each type of AV driving behaviors.

For Year 2, we will examine the feasibility of conducting a real-world experiment at Mcity which seeks to understand the impact of explicit communications on a pedestrian’s trust in AV. Our overall goal is to be able to conduct a real-world experiment at Mcity which allows us to examine how an AV can effectively promote a pedestrian’s trust through explicit communications via message boards. Objectives include:

To identify and address all barriers to conducting a real-world experiment at Mcity aimed at understanding pedestrian’s trust in AV through explicit communications via message boards.
To understand the benefits and limitations of relying on a real-world experiment as an approach to understanding pedestrian’s trust in AV.

PI and Co-PIs: