Shifting Gears for the Automated Vehicle: Findings from Focus Groups in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

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Elyse COMEAU and Matthias SWEET

The emergence of automated vehicles (AVs) may potentially transform the ways in which individuals travel, and integrating the impacts and opportunities of AVs into travel demand forecasts and transportation planning will be important for wise decisionmaking.
This paper presents findings from focus groups designed to explore Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) residents’ interest and expected behavioral responses to AVs. Results suggest that the general public is interested in AVs and eager to learn more, but that individual travel habits carry significant weight and are likely to slow the adoption of AVs. The findings from this study emphasize the planner’s responsibility to engage in consultations internally, within organizations and across departments, as well as externally, with stakeholders and members of the community to foster information gathering, dissemination, and knowledge mobilization. On-going internal and external engagements will first allow organizations to prepare and consolidate appropriate strategies for this disruptive technology, and second, will keep the public sphere informed and engaged in the implementation of AVs.