When innovative vehicles are developed for the society, the social acceptance is normally a very important issue in democratic countries. In the recent years, the autonomous vehicles is a representative example faced by the manufacturer and the related people. On the other hand, in an expo or amusement parks, many shows and/or attractions are just letting the visitors to experience the special vehicles or something with riding the vehicles. This means that the innovative vehicles can attract the visitors. This study is to know whether and what much that the experience in the parks may contribute to social acceptance. A survey was implemented. APM (Accessible People Mover), which is an electric vehicle and developed for easy use to all people including users making use the wheelchair and baby car, has been used as transportation service vehicle at a park in Toyota City since January 2022. The surveys had been designed for three groups: APM users, the users of conventional road park train and general park visitors. Comparing the answers of the three groups of people, the differences gave us whether this new experience contribute to deepen the social acceptance. In the survey, our target vehicle/service is the transportation service provided by the autonomous vehicle called as Green Slow Mobility (GSM) in Japan. Here, the word “Green” means that vehicles are normally using electric vehicles. The word “Slow” rules the speeds of vehicles being slower than 20 km/h in-operation. The surveys were conducted in February and March 2022. The comparison among the three groups shows that regarding the intentions on promoting the autonomous vehicles into the real society, these are clear differences between the APM users and the other two groups. The limitation of this study is that the APM used in the park is not an autonomous vehicle so that the answers given by the APM users may be expanded. The further study needs to be conducted by targeting the users of autonomous vehicles. Anyhow, the study told us that the experience of some innovative or new vehicles used in parks instead of the public roads contribute to social acceptance. Therefore, in order to deepen the social acceptance, all kinds of social trials, experience or the use in the place easily introduced should be carried out actively.
Dr. Ryosuke ANDO, Chief Research Engineer, TTRI (Toyota Transportation Research Institute)