Safety & Privacy in Urban Air Mobility (UAM) - A User Centric Design Approach Providing Insights into People´s Preferences for UAM Cabin Designs
Authors: Fabian Reimer, Ivana Moerland-Masic, Albert End, Jana Schadow, Thomas-Mathias Bock, Frank Meller, Bjoern Nagel
Abstract: For years, manufacturers and research institutions around the world have been working on various concepts to start a new era of urban and suburban transportation for people with so-called Air Taxis. However, the social acceptance of this new type of mobility is widely assumed to play an essential role in the future development of this field. Since passengers of future Air Taxis will spend most of the trip inside the cabin area, the desire for safety and privacy within the cabin might have a substantial impact on people´s opinions about such vehicles. Therefore, users are being involved in the design process of future Air Taxi cabins from the very beginning as part of the Horizon UAM project at the DLR German Aerospace Center. For this purpose, an online survey was initiated in July 27, 2021 and completed in October 19, 2021, resulting in 202 valid datasets of participants from various demographic groups in Germany. One survey part focused on factors of safety and privacy and was divided into two stages. In the first stage, respondents were asked to share their personal experiences and opinions about safety and privacy in public transport. In the second stage, six different scenarios for UAM cabins were presented. All scenarios used cabins with four seats in two rows of seats facing each other, including different types of partition walls. For evaluating each concept, participants were asked to imagine themselves being on a 10-15 -minute flight with an Air Taxi. Both in a scenario as a solo traveler and as a traveler with an accompanying person, the overall evaluation of each concept had to be given with respect to privacy, safety and comfort.The response pattern of the first part indicates, that the hygiene of a seat in public transportation was perceived to be particularly important. Furthermore, respondents showed a strong preference to have a free seat next to them, while group seating areas with four seats seemed to be rather avoided. Moreover, it tended to be relatively unimportant for the participants to be able to see the driver of the public vehicle. The response pattern of the second part suggested, for instance, that respondents seemed to decline partition walls in case they disturb the visual contact with an accompanying person. Accordingly, the absence of any partitions was also rated relatively positive, for the scenario of traveling with companion. In trips without an accompanying person, sharing a separated area with a foreigner tended to be evaluated rather negatively, especially when facing each other. However, complete separation from all fellow passengers also received a substantial amount of negative evaluations.Consequently, future Air Taxi cabin design concepts should avoid fully closed compartments with two foreign travelers facing each other. Therefore, flexible separation concepts might be considered in order to create an individual level of safety and privacy inside UAM cabins. The findings of the survey provide important information for future cabin design of air taxis. By involving the population into the process, the acceptance towards new modes of transport might be increased.
Keywords: Urban Air Mobility, User Centric Design, Acceptance, User Centric Design, Safety & Privacy
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