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Can self-driving cars reduce private vehicle ownership?

Raised of $3,000 Goal
Ended on 1/27/17
Campaign Ended
  • $14
  • 1%
  • Finished
    on 1/27/17

About This Project

The self-driving vehicle is no longer a fantasy. My master's research focused on forecasting the Americans' adoption of privately-owned self-driving vehicles. However, I believe that the autonomy will first hit the market in the form of on-demand self-driving taxis (e.g., autonomous Uber). This project tests the hypothesis that this technological revolution will encourage people to be completely dependent on self-driving taxis, giving up to vehicle ownership.

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What is the context of this research?

We have recently conducted three studies (study areas: Austin, Texas, and the entire USA) to quantify public's willingness to pay for self-driving vehicles. (All studies are published in top international journals; see Austin perspective, for example). Given a low willingness to pay and high prices of the self-driving technologies, automation is less likely to come in the form privately-owned vehicles. However, increasing usage of ridesharing (e.g., Uber) and carsharing (e.g., Zipcar) services in the last decade indicates that the self-driving vehicles can be disruptive in the shared mobility industry. This study explores the public's opinion about their willingness to shift toward shared self-driving vehicles.

What is the significance of this project?

Policy experts are speculating about the changes in travel behaviour in the self-driving era, but these are only speculations and may not prepare the nation for this revolution. We need to answer the questions like "If the purchase price of vehicles are increased by 10% and wait time of shared self-driving vehicles is increased by 5 minutes, what proportion of the population will choose the private and shared travel modes in a self-driving market?" Such questions cannot be answered without knowing public's choices under different wait time scenarios. Therefore, there is a pressing need to conduct choice experiments, where we understand the opinion of a sample in the different scenarios, estimate economic models, and draw the quantitative conclusions about the population.

What are the goals of the project?

We will survey people and will ask about their choices in hypothetical situations. These situations will be designed to understand that how the purchase price of private vehicles and characteristics of shared vehicles (wait time, emission savings, and trip fare) affect the traveler's choice between shared and private vehicles. This study will identify the proportion and characteristics of the current car users, who are willing to leave their private vehicles, and transit users who are ready to shift entirely on the fleet of shared self-driving vehicles under different scenarios (e.g., different vehicle prices, different trip cost of the shared services). Government can directly use our forecasts for transportation planning.


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Conducting choice experiments would be the only cost of the project. In the first phase, I plan to conduct these experiments on the sample of 750 respondents from the New York City. Since the sample should approximately represent the population of the New York City, I plan to conduct these experiments using the representative panel of Survey Sampling International (SSI, the world leader in data collection). Each experiment costs $4 and thus, the total budget of the project is $3000. If the results obtained from this choice experiment study are promising, the more advanced study will be conducted in the next phase, which will have a budget of around $6000.

Endorsed by

Prateek is an excellent young academic who has produced some insightful research in the domain of Transportation economics. The topic of this study is very relevant to the changing landscape of transportation and would contribute tremendously to our understanding of the future. Prateek has the skills and the expertise to take this project to a completion and provide scientifically rigorous results.
Prateek is well qualified to explore this timely topic. We all want to know more about the impact of automation on travel.

Meet the Team

Prateek Bansal
Prateek Bansal
Graduate Student


Cornell University
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Prateek Bansal

I am a Ph.D. student at Cornell University. Before joining Cornell, I received my MSc in Transportation Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 2015 and B.Tech in Civil Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi in 2013. My research interests include discrete choice models, discrete choice experiment design, machine learning for preference elicitation, and using all these techniques to understand the impacts of autonomous vehicles on travel behavior and vehicle choice. To know more about my recent research related to autonomous vehicles, please visit my Google Scholar profile.

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