How autonomous shuttles are changing city transportation

For cities and their partners, a major benefit of these pilot programs has been using the shuttles to educate the general public about autonomous vehicles (AVs) and get them comfortable traveling in one. Public polling from companies like Gallup and AAA has found a majority of people are nervous to ride in an AV due to safety concerns, while similar concerns have made tech and auto industry officials and regulators skittish about wide rollouts.

To curb that, the shuttles’ safety drivers have been a key part of the education effort. Malek said that while the human drivers are there to make sure that nothing goes awry, they are also available to answer riders’ questions and allay any concerns about riding in an AV — something that they are typically experiencing for the first time.