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Autonomous driving cargo bikesIntroducing an acceptability-focusedapproach towards a new mobility offerKaren Krausea,, Tom Assmannb, Stephan Schmidtc,EllenMatthiesaaOtto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Institute for Psychology, Department Environmental Psychology, Universitätsplatz 2, D-39106 Magdeburg, GermanybOtto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Institut for Logistics and Material Handling Systems (ILM), Universitätsplatz 2, D-39106 Magdeburg, GermanycOtto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Institute for Mobile Systems, Universitätsplatz 2, D-39106 Magdeburg, GermanyABSTRACTARTICLE INFOArticle history:Received 22 January 2020Received in revised form 10 May 2020Accepted 17 May 2020Available online 24 June 2020Autonomous Driving as a possible, almost likely future of mobility offers new scenarios to move. In the present study,wetakethefirst step to transfer the vision of mobility asa service on autonomous driving cargo bikes: userswillbeableto call a cargo bike, use it for multiple purposes and release it again for others to use. To ensure broad applicability indifferent mobility scenarios as well as addressing individual mobility needs while offering intuitive operability, wefollowed an interdisciplinary approach. While the challenge to realize this vision on a technical level was prepared,both logistics and human sciences collaborated in developing data collection instruments and using user-centered de-velopment methods. In detail, we used online questionnaires to describe mobility needs on the testfield of auniversity's' campus. Secondly, we used focus groups to discuss points relevant to future users' needs for the autono-mous driving cargo bike as well as discussion points with other road users who would encounter the cargo bike in traf-fic. We integrated results from those different approaches to formulate construction indications and points for futureresearch.Keywords:Cargo bikeUrban mobilityAutonomous vehicleBikesharingMobilitätswendeUser-centered development1. IntroductionA profound change in mobility preferences is underway, emphasizing in-termodal mobility and shared mobility offers over personal car usewhichcan be seen in visions for future mobility (e.g.acatech, 2018). Societal topicssuch as global warming, air pollution, urbanization, and congestion fuel thistrend. More efficient 24/7 operations are needed just as much as eco-friendlytransport while achieving the vision zero.Technological innovation in the form of autonomous vehicles (AVs) isdiscussed as a modern solution to the above-mentioned challenges.Introducing AVs in form of self-driving cars (e.g.Fastenmeier, 2016) fol-lows the hope of improving road trafficefficiency. However, this proposalis challenged by recent researchi.e., increasing the number of cars inurban areas already affected by congestion, this negative effect may in-crease as well (Hörl et al., 2019;Fagnant and Kockelman, 2015). Smaller,electric vehicles using sidewalks or bike lanes instead of roads seem a com-paratively straightforward proposition. However, scientific examinationsofthose new vehicle types which may hit streets sooner than cars are very lim-ited asBaum et al. (2019)show for urban logistics.An important socio-technical development, which takes up thischallenge from another perspective, is the increasing use of cargobikes. As e-bikes, they serve alternative drives, strengthen cyclingwith the possibility of multimodaluse of public transport, and thuscontribute to slowing down traffic. Currently, they are used more byindividuals, businesses and logisticians (Gruber et al., 2015;Assmann, 2018). One possibility to develop larger user groups is, forexample, transferring load bikes into sharing systems (currently onlyin pilot cities) and automating this mobility offer, which goes handin hand with increasing efficiency of the overall system and a savingspace.Thus, developing such AVs in a way that urban mobility situations arenot further deteriorated but rather improved is a worthy challenge for amultitude of scientific disciplines. In a Federal Ministry of Education andResearch (BMBF)-funded conceptual period of one year, we developedthe idea of autonomous driving cargo bikes (ADCB) to be used in urban set-tings. They propose a great potential to take bike-sharing systems, currentlydeveloped until the 4th generation (Mátrai and Tóth, 2016), to the nextlevel. Although state of the art bike-sharing is highly integrated into publictransport and enables convenient usage through digital services in a free-floating or station-based system, users still need to walk to a certain bike-sharing station and often cannot return the bike at theirfinal destination.Thus, real door-to-door mobility is not possible. ADCBs integrated into abike-sharing system of the 5th generation (Zug et al., 2019) will bridgethis gap by autonomously driving to the desired starting point users maychoose. Users then use the ADCB to drive manually to their desiredTransportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives 6 (2020) 100135Corresponding author.E-mail (K. Krause).© 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license ( lists available atScienceDirectTransportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectivesjournal homepage:
destination(s). There, no longer needed, the ADCB autonomously returns toa waiting point or the next user (Fig. 1).One striving advantage of ADCBs in5th generation bike-sharing (ADCB-system) is that they avoid manual rebalancing problems (Zug et al., 2019)and, therefore, offer significant reductions in operational costs. Further ad-vantages (Zug et al., 2019) can be found in economically viable applicationsin less dense urban areas, better public transport integration through re-served on-demand provision at stations, and the possibility to transportcargo.In social sciences, research on autonomous vehicles heavily focuses oncars (BDP, 2017), especially on risk perception and the appropriate level ofautomationin terms of the actual involvement of human beings presentin the car in the actual driving processes, i.e. the possibility to intervene man-ually in the autonomous system. Simply transferring the insights producedfrom this area of research to a more bike-focused context is not feasible. Awhole new line of research is necessary, in whichunder the comprehensionof not only technology acceptance models (Venkatesh and Bala, 2008;Venkatesh et al., 2003) and research on human-technology interaction(Gaudiello et al., 2016), but also general ideas on acceptance and mobility re-search (Zmud and Sener, 2017)new insights appropriate for (cargo) bikeusage are explored. Such socio-technical developments must be embeddedin the desirable futures of city dwellers. The needs and wishes of differentuser groups must therefore not only be taken into account during technicaldevelopment. This is necessary to enable social sciences to properly assessthe acceptance and acceptability of new mobility solutions, as presentedabove in the form of ADCBs. The perceived safety and acceptability are themain focus pointson the one side, they have to be assessed for pedestrians,other bikers or drivers interacting with the autonomous bike in everydaytravel; on the other side, future users of the autonomous cargo bike shouldbe involved in design decisions to ensure their pleasant and comfortableusage. Users and their ideas, needs, and preferences should thus be a partof the construction process.Looking at the challenge of future mobility from a more economicperspective, such a transfer seems more feasible. Research and practicalknowledge on the system design of bike-sharing systems until the 4thgeneration and cargo bike sharing is well established for businessmodels (Büttner et al., 2011;ITDP, 2013;Koska et al., 2014), usage pat-terns (Becker and Rudolf, 2018;Wagner et al., 2016), planningprocesses (Frade and Ribeiro, 2015;Garcia-Gutierrez et al., 2014;Neumann-Saavedra et al., 2015), and rebalancing (e.g.(Dell'Amicoet al., 2014;Regue and Recker, 2014). Unfortunately, this extensiveknowledgebasedoesnotprovideinformationoncriticalaspectsofasystem and service design like required lead time for provision at theuser's location, cargo demands, requirements towards renting, andcharging stations. Following, the critical investigation of the system de-sign and the users' preference towards them is a necessary prerequisitefor developing a 5th generation bike-sharing.Consequently, the aim of this paper isfirstly to derive insights into thedesign of ADCBs in terms of user-centric design, acceptability, andhuman-machine interaction. For this, an overview of different needs andperceptions from both future users and other road users interacting withan ADCB is provided. The second aim is to achieve thefirst landmarks forthe design of an ADCB-system. The paper, therefore, structures as follows:InSection 2, more theoretical background is offered.Section 3introducesthe methodologies used. InSection 4the results are presented anddiscussed in the followingSection 5. Finally,Section 6concludes thiscontribution.2. Theory2.1. Autonomous driving in the discourse of acceptance researchAcceptance research aims to go beyond mere research into opinions andattitudes towards new products and, in the sense of anticipatory social mar-ket research, to identify needs, ideas, desires, hopes, and fears, and to relatethese to a socio-technical system (Hüsing et al., 2002;Lenz and Fraedrich,2015). In this way, complex areas such as the transport system can be ade-quately classified in its further development, and potentials and options canbe coordinated (Astor and Bovenschulte, 2001). Acceptance developswithin the framework of social and technical construction processes. It isto be understood as a variable, dynamic construct that changes over timeas well as concerning the prevailing conditions through values andnorms. This dynamic is also reflected in the fact that depending on thephase of an innovation (development, implementation, appropriation,...), very different groups of actors are relevant and must be taken into ac-count accordingly (Geels, 2005).Fig. 1.Vision of a Future Mobility: Using the ADCB in an Urban Setting.Graphic by Devina Manoeva, 2019.K. Krause et al.Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives 6 (2020) 1001352