Can we design SAV so people are more willing to ride-pool?

AV design pic


Angela Sanguinetti (Research Environmental Psychology, ITS-Davis)

Additional Researchers

Nina Amenta (Professor, Computer Science) and Beth Ferguson (Assistant Professor, Design)


The three revolutions—electrification, automation, and shared mobility—could dramatically reduce global CO2 emissions. However, such positive outcomes will depend in part on increasing riders per vehicle. Many factors could affect prospective SAV users’ willingness to ride-pool in shared vehicles (as opposed to occupying them one at a time), such as sacrifices in comfort and travel time, as well as perceived and real threats to safety and privacy.

Thus, there is a need for strategies to promote ride-pooling in anticipation of potential proliferation of privately-owned SAVs and SAV fleets operated by transportation network companies. Using financial incentives exclusively to promote ride-pooling is insufficient as they will likely be negligible for many SAV users, and riders who cannot afford a solo-rider option could be exposed to uncomfortable and unsafe conditions. Since SAVs do not exist outside a few small programs, now is the critical time to inform vehicle and program design in order to create the most positive experience for ride-pooling and mitigate threats to personal space, privacy, and safety.

Our past research developed hypotheses about shared autonomous vehicle (SAV) design features that could promote users’ willingness to share a ride with a stranger. In this research, we will develop an online survey protocol with creative visual displays of SAVs that can be used to test those hypotheses. We will assess potential SAV users’ willingness to ride-pool in a conventionally designed vehicle versus one with features aimed to mitigate risks (e.g., large windows for increased visibility, and safety) and create benefits for pooling (e.g., social opportunities). The testing instrument and protocol will enable future experiments with other vehicle and program design features (e.g., passenger rating systems, travel time estimates). This research will improve our understanding of how to promote ride-pooling in SAVs, a factor that could determine whether the net carbon emissions impact of the “three revolutions” is positive or negative

Additional Resources


Sanguinetti A., Ferguson B., Oka J., Alston-Stepnitz E., Kurani K. (2021) Designing Robo-Taxis to Promote Ride-Pooling. In: Ahram T., Taiar R., Langlois K., Choplin A. (eds) Human Interaction, Emerging Technologies and Future Applications III. IHIET 2020. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 1253. Springer, Cham. Download manuscript