As a precursor to future public transportation, automated shuttle buses can already be experienced in some test regions, but the general public still has reservations and may not yet be ready for this change. For example, the fact that such vehicles might operate
[...] Read more.
As a precursor to future public transportation, automated shuttle buses can already be experienced in some test regions, but the general public still has reservations and may not yet be ready for this change. For example, the fact that such vehicles might operate independently (without a human driver) creates a barrier of uncertainty and mistrust among people. In this work, we aim to identify and classify the prevailing reservations and propose solutions. We followed the User Centered Design (UCD) process to design concepts that are specifically tailored to the needs of future public transport users. After related work analysis, on-site research, and pre-studies, two main studies were conducted specifically to address communication in the exterior (n
= 24) and interior/service design (n
= 21). For both studies, we applied a mixed-methods approach combining quantitative and qualitative measures. Our results indicate that, in general, existing ways of communication in the exterior are insufficient to meet future needs. The two visualization concepts for external communication developed in this work were rated (significantly) better in most dimensions of the User Experience Questionnaire (UEQ), when compared to the baseline condition with no additional visualization. Furthermore, preferences among the study participants towards simple, highly visible, and well-known lighting concepts could be observed. As for the interior, the results show that participants rated attractiveness highly for the two design concepts (closer, further in the future) as compared to current, state-of-the-art solutions (automated buses currently in operation). For the “near future” concept, the pragmatic quality dominated, while in the other (the “far future”) concept the hedonic quality was in the foreground. From the results, design recommendations in different categories were derived, which reflect the general openness of the public towards new technologies and interior approaches, but also point out the importance for privacy and designated personal spaces inside an (automated) shuttle bus. Some of the results do not strictly apply to automated shuttle buses, and can serve as valuable suggestions for improving conventional shuttle buses.