Trust and clarity crucial to the robotaxi experience

Ensuring that passengers feel in control is a challenge when there is no driver, steering wheel or brake pedal. By Freddie Holmes

Special report: What’s the secret to making the perfect robotaxi?

A robotaxi could have the most comfortable seats, the best self-driving algorithm and a friendly digital assistant, but if riders do not trust the vehicle to travel safely from A to B, they will never be truly comfortable stepping aboard.

To get around the challenge, in-depth research is being carried out to understand the human factors that might influence trust and satisfaction for robotaxi users. Tips can be taken from existing services such as taxis, commercial aircraft and even hotel rooms, but the fact remains that the robotaxi presents a whole new level of complexity.

Chris Rockwell is Founder and Chief Executive of Lextant, a Columbus, Ohio-based consultancy that describes itself as a ‘human experience’ firm. It works not only with those in the automotive industry, but also various other sectors including consumer goods and healthcare. Lextant builds what it calls ‘experience frameworks’ that define factors such luxury, comfort and trust, as well as more complex matters such as ‘connectedness.’ It then works with companies to link those findings to the products and services being designed, be that a digital cockpit experience or a broader mobility-as-a-service experience.

For robotaxis to be desirable, riders must first begin to trust them

Building trust

Ironically, one of the most important elements is imbuing a sense of control in a vehicle in which riders ultimately have no physical control. Enabling…