An Naturalistic Experiment to Simulate AV Impacts on Travel Patterns

chauffeur pic


Giovanni Circella

Additional Researchers

Joan Walker, Jai Malik


In this project, we plan to expand the behavioral experiment using professional drivers to simulate life with an AVs to approximately 100 households in total in the Sacramento region through a cooperation with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. As part of this study, we will resample households that have participated in the recent SACOG regional household travel survey (which will provide one week of GPS-based observations of all trip patterns in the household, which can be compared to the travel patterns during the experiment). In the project, we evaluate the impact of the availability of autonomous vehicles via the use of personal chauffeurs in a naturalistic experiment that aims to create familiarity with this coming technology that is currently closer to science fiction than reality. The objective of this research is to mimic potential life with a privately-owned self-driving vehicle by providing 60 hours of free chauffeur service for each participating household for use within a seven-day period. This project seeks to understand the changes in travel behaviors as the subjects adjust their travel and activities during the chauffeur week when, as in a self-driving vehicle, they are explicitly relieved of the driving task. This naturalistic experiment enables people to experience and act directly on how their travel and activities may change if they were to own a self-driving car, and it allows us to study such potential shifts in household activity organization and scheduling, trip patterns, escorting trips, etc. In future stages of the project additional experiments will be run to compare travel pattern impacts in a privately-owned AV scenario vs. other shared-AV option scenarios.