Evaluating the Human Experience of Autonomous Boats with Immerse Virtual Reality

All the disruptive e!ects autonomous vehicles (AVs) might have on urban mobility in the near future still need to go through the seldom addressed issue of how society will react to this new technology. Since AVs are an emergent technology, with very few pilot tests deployed, studies focusing on how people perceive and react to autonomous vehicles are commonly based on online surveys.

Although important, these studies measure peoples opinions on AVs, but not their actual reaction when using them. In this paper, we assess usersperception of AVs using an immersive virtual reality experiment. As a case study, we modeled autonomous boats that are intended to be deployed in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The goal is to compare usersreactions to manned and unmanned boats in a virtual reality environment. In total, 30 participants were exposed to a Virtual Reality (VR) simulation, where we collected skin conductance data, which was compared with the participants responses to a questionnaire regarding perceived risk, stress, and trust toward manned and unmanned boats. We conclude that complexity of the environment in"uences the experience of trust, stress and perceived risk. Moreover, the study also #nds that autonomous boats do not substantially in"uence the experienced stress, trust, or perceived risk in comparison with human-controlled boats. Besides the results on AV, this article also shows the gains that virtual reality can bring to studies of the social appropriation of technologies. The results from this work show the need for objective, quantitative data regarding the societal acceptance toward autonomous systems to better understand how these technologies will be appropriated.

Source: Venverloo et al. 2020. Evaluating the Human Experience of Autonomous Boats with Immerse Virtual Reality. Journal of Urban Technology

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