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Trusting Technology with Your Life: Research and Interventions on Trust in Autonomous Vehicles

Trusting Technology with Your Life: Research and Interventions on Trust in Autonomous Vehicles


Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)



PI and Project Team 

Dr Frens Kroeger

Project Partners and Countries

Connected Places Catapult, Milton Keynes

Project Overview

Trust is central to the acceptance and adoption of Autonomous Vehicles (AV), but it also poses a significant challenge: reservations and distrust of this new technology are widespread. Little research exists on this question, and what does exist focuses mostly on human-machine interaction. This project will approach research and interventions for trust in AV from a new, broader perspective in at least three ways:

Multiple stakeholders. The project investigates the trust not only of AV drivers, but also of the general public; businesses; engineers; and policy makers. Interviews will be conducted with each group in order to capture their different perspectives on trust and distrust.

Multiple dimensions. The project draws on specialist insights from the field of trust research to distinguish between important dimensions of trust and distrust. (For instance: trust in the capability of the system to keep you safe vs. trust in the system's "ethics"; trust in technological sophistication vs. trust in safety legislation; information-driven vs. emotion-driven bases of trust; etc.)

Multiple possible intervention channels. Based on rigorous research, the project will design interventions, i.e., recommendations for increasing trust among the above stakeholder groups in multiple ways. Specifically: technological (human-machine interaction), social (communication with businesses and the general public), and legal (consulting to policy makers). In this, a central principle of the project is the idea: trust only where trust is due. If we focus on clever communication strategies to increase trust "no matter what", nobody benefits. Our goal must be appropriate trust – that is: AV must become factually trustworthy, as defined by relevant stakeholders. This is what this project strives to facilitate.

Project Impact Statement

The proposed project puts impact at its very centre. Trust has been shown to play a very real and decisive role in the adoption of new automated technologies, and this project aims to increase the trust of key stakeholders in Autonomous Vehicles by increasing the trustworthiness of AV. In order to achieve this goal, the project aims to identify, first, the different trust-related needs of each group of beneficiaries: what are sources of trust and triggers for distrust among AV drivers, engineers, businesses, the general public, and policy makers? The central function of these findings is to serve as a basis for recommendations in order to actively increase trust and trustworthiness by incrementally improving human-machine interaction; achieving more effective communication about AV with policy makers, businesses and the general public; and improving the dialogue surrounding legislative procedures in regard to AV.

 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023