Using qualitative methods, this study explored drivers’ responses to the experience of automated vehicles (AVs) centered on theoretical themes of trust, particularly around ability, helpfulness, and integrity, as well as individual factors of identity, norms, and efficacy. Participants first completed a 20-minute drive in an advanced high-fidelity driving simulator that simulated driving an AV with intermittent periods of manual vehicle control. Participants identified financial concerns and the need to trust that the AV system would function as expected and in a manner similar to human drivers in such areas as speed management. They also identified the need for trust with regard to potential benefits (helpfulness regarding mobility and secondary task performance). Hacking and privacy were identified integrity issues although, primarily, privacy was not considered relevant to their behavior. Participant interviews also revealed that individual constructs around identity (e.g., an early technology adopter or “car person”), social norms, and efficacy were important factors in the intention to drive or own a fully AV. Participants also described emotive outcomes, relating to benefits of relaxing or reduced stress and to AV use being fun and safe.
Overall, these findings provided some insights into how drivers’ describe the benefits of and potential concerns about emerging AV technologies.