Will air taxis extend public transportation?

Cities and their surrounding areas have to face rising mobility and infrastructural challenges due to the increasing urbanization. Correspondingly, a new category for aerial vehicles and shared mobility concepts called urban air mobility (UAM) has emerged, offering a new dimension: the skyscape. Electrical Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, also known as air taxis, are considered the vehicle foundation of UAM. Air taxis provide a local, emission-free and infrastructure-conserving mode of transportation. For successful integration into the public transportation network, the intention to use and the willingness to accept air taxis must be present among potential users. Another important indicator for future infrastructure planning is the willingness to pay. Therefore, Hartmut Fricke, Robert Brühl, Laura Riza and Patrick Planing conducted a study that aims to investigate the willingness to use and pay for air taxis in various urban scenarios. This study was developed through an interdisciplinary research background and offers a first approximation for regular trips for each scenario.

Research Overview

The study, conducted in the greater Dresden area in Germany, integrates diverse research perspectives across different urban transport scenarios: societal acceptance, intention to use and willingness to pay. The data collection took place in the greater metropolitan area of the city, with a final sample of 1,074 participants. QR codes leading to a quantitative online survey were distributed to passersby at various locations within the city and on the outskirts to ensure that participants from different city areas were queried.
To ensure applicability in practical contexts, three scenarios meticulously drawn from real-life contexts were selected. One central factor that remained constant among the scenarios was that the air taxi covers the distance about 30 % faster than a car, conventional taxi, or bus and that there is less risk of delay due to external influences, such as congestion. Scenario 1 explored the utilization of air taxis as an individual transportation choice for a special occasion. Specifically, the application for a trip to an opera performance (“limousine case”). This scenario was chosen since the Dresden opera is among the most well-known operas in Europa and the most popular tourist location in the area. Scenario 2 examined an individual route from the respondent’s home to the Postplatz, a public square in the city center of Dresden (“taxi case”). Since the respondents reported their postal code, approximate distances to the location could be calculated for each scenario. In Scenario 3, the use of an air taxi as part of a fixed-schedule network was presented for a mid-distance flight in the larger city area (“bus case”).

Main findings of survey

  • Results indicated a restrained societal acceptance for air taxis among this sample in the greater Dresden metropolitan area.
    → Approximately half of the respondents indicated they do not want air taxis in Dresden in the future
  • Results indicated a restrained intention to use air taxis among this sample, with most respondents stating that it is unlikely they will use air taxis in the future.
  • Participants who would like to see air taxis in Dresden in the future would also be more likely to use them.
  • The intention to use air taxis in the future was highest in the limousine scenario and a similar intention emerged for the bus scenario. In the taxi scenario, the intention to use was lower.
  • The analysis revealed a significant difference in the intention to use air taxis between the limousine case and the taxi case, as well as between the taxi case and the bus case. No significant difference was found between the limousine and the bus scenarios. 
  • The PSM-light method was used to determine price willingness. For the limousine case, the computed willingness to pay is €30 per flight. In the second scenario, the taxi case, participants’ willingness to pay is €15, and for the bus case, it is €18. 

Conclusion

Overall, the data suggest that air taxis have not gained widespread acceptance yet, as approximately half of the respondents are not open to the idea of using them. The limited experience with air taxis, as they are not part of the transportation system, might contribute to the restricted acceptance of participants. Furthermore, the study reveals that people are more inclined to welcome the integration of air taxis into their cities if they perceive it as a technology they would use personally in the future. The scenario analysis revealed a greater inclination among respondents to use air taxis for special occasions compared to everyday commuting scenarios, indicating that people are more likely to consider air taxis for unique events rather than as a primary daily mode of transportation. Accordingly, consumers showed the highest willingness to pay in the limousine scenario. Based on this research, governmental authorities and industry stakeholders may consider the findings to develop a human-centered approach for future mobility and ensure successful implementation in the mobility networks of the future.
The complete study is available for open access in the Transportation Research Journal.

Life in a hobby lab: A qualitative user study on smart home acceptance in shared households

While many of our acceptance research studies focus on the quantitative evaluation of (potential) technology acceptance factors, this blog entry describes a qualitative approach to smart home acceptance research. In addition, it integrates the views of two target groups by trying to understand the mutual acceptance of members in a household.

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User acceptance of automobile subscriptions and flat rate models

Subscription or flat rate models are flexible alternatives which have been used for many years now, especially in relation to large data bases which are now available, for instance, to Netflix or Spotify customers. Hence, it is worth to explore more flexible usage models, not only in the media (e.g., streaming or music), but in the automotive industry as well. Indeed, especially young drivers or people living in the city, seem to prefer having a car ready to use for a specific time period when needed instead of owning the vehicle. Thus, compared to typical options drivers have, i.e. buying or leasing a vehicle, subscription or flat rate models offer drivers a way to book a vehicle in a flexible way which can be canceled at any point.

Car Flatrate

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User acceptance of autonomous delivery robots in different application contexts

Recently, autonomous robots have been utilized increasingly for the delivery of food and packages. Even though these electrically powered vehicles have been used in the U.S. since 2018, pilot projects are just now becoming more popular in Germany. Due to their advantages for customers and society as a whole, delivery robots could become an important aspect of the scenery in future cities. More specifically, deliveries carried out by autonomous robots are environmentally friendlier and an efficient answer to the growing number of online deliveries. Furthermore, customers expect high flexibility as well as fast, but less-costly deliveries – demands which can be met by autonomous robots. However, user acceptance is essential for the successful implementation of this innovation. So far, user acceptance research surrounding autonomous delivery robots is limited and there is little empirical literature considering different application scenarios of the technology. Thus, two students of our business psychology program investigated factors influencing the customers’ acceptance of autonomous robots for last mile transportation of goods with a focus on current as well as potential future application scenarios.

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What makes the implementation of collaboration tools successful? – A case study on employees’ acceptance when introducing MS Teams

Since the 1980s, Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) technologies have been developed and increasingly utilized to ensure digital collaboration of employees within and between organizations. The need for ways to work remotely and time-independently across various countries requires the implementation of digital collaboration tools now more than ever. Besides, the global Corona pandemic required a quick and efficient response of companies worldwide which served as a ”digitalization booster” regarding digital and remote working. Yet, the employees’ missing acceptance and corresponding resistance towards using these tools represents a substantial obstacle for organizations. Hence, employers need to consider which implementation measures are effective in securing acceptance and successful adaptation of novel technologies.

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First empirical insights into the user acceptance of hyperloop

Innovative mobility concepts have repeatedly been the subject of our research. This blog post summarizes the study results on the acceptance of hyperloop, a transportation method based on low pressure tubes and a magnetic levitation belt. Hyperloop promises a faster and more energy-efficient alternative, especially compared to airplanes. As with most innovations, one major challenge is gaining the acceptance of (potential) users. Due to the limited knowledge among the general public and little research around hyperloop, this study aimed at identifying the factors impacting user acceptance of hyperloop while focusing on different levels of the users’ knowledge about them.

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TEDxStuttgart: Prof. Dr. Patrick Planing – How psychology influences innovation

On October 8, 2022, mobility and acceptance researcher Prof. Dr. Patrick Planing presented his TED talk at the Liederhalle Stuttgart focusing on the question who decides which innovations humans will accept and use in the future.

Is it really strategists, inventors, founders and CEOs who tell us what our mobility will look like in 10 or 20 years? Or do we as consumers have more influence on the future than we might realize? Answers to these questions can be found in the following video.

Attention: The TED talk is presented in German.