Automation has increasingly found its way into the traffic sector and aims at tasks which have so far been a human domain. Currently this applies especially to the automation of driving tasks in road vehicles. As a consequence of the technological change in information and communication technology, many developers do not only consider these highly complex tasks as controllable, but they are also linked with numerous social performance promises: improved road safety, increased efficiency of the traffic system, additional user comfort, and extended mobility options are the ones which are typically mentioned. The long-term goal is not only the extensive automation of (road) vehicles but also to develop them to a point where they can become really autonomous road users.
The Tech Center a-drive, a consortium of the scientific partners Ulm University, FZI Research Center for Information Technology, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) on the one hand and the industrial partner Daimler AG on the other, pools the expertise in the field of autonomous driving in Baden-Württemberg.
ITAS is responsible for a Tech Center work package which adds a complementary perspective to the technical research of the project: that of mobility-related innovation research. Analytical starting point is the observation that personal mobility is performed in sociotechnical systems where technologies, infrastructures, and human behavior interact in many ways. This network is modified with the market introduction of automated vehicles. New mobility options are opened up for user groups which have so far been excluded for different reasons, technological systems (like autonomous vehicles) enter the network as autonomous actors, and new forms of co-operation between humans and technology – both as users of the means of transport and as interaction partner in the traffic environment – have to be tested and, if applicable, assessed regarding their legal, ethical, and social impacts.
Especially the expectations and perceptions of laypersons regarding automated driving are empirically analyzed in the project. The underlying scenario is "Vehicle on Demand (VoD)", a vehicle which comes autonomously to the user and either returns autonomously to a parking position or is available to other users after the ride. This scenario consistently implements the development vision of expanded participation in individual motorized mobility for user groups which have so far been excluded. It provides a number of essential new mobility service concepts for more resource-efficient and environmentally friendly traffic, but its socio-technical realization is also a great challenge.