The FLOURISH project was developed in response to Innovate UK’s Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Collaboration Research and Development competition. The three-year project, worth £5.5 million, sought to develop products and services that maximise the benefits of Connected and Autonomous vehicles for users (specifically older adults and people with mobility needs) and transport authorities. By adopting a user-centred approach, FLOURISH aimed to achieve a better understanding of consumer demands and expectations, including the implications and challenges of an ageing society. 15 different partner organisations were involved, including large and small engineering companies, catapults, charities, and universities).
There were several core strands of research in FLOURISH, and Traverse’s research focused on contributing to an increased understanding of customers’ user needs and experiences of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs). To build an understanding of customers’ needs and experiences, in each year of FLOURISH, Traverse conducted a round of engagement involving stakeholders (year 1 and 2 only) and members of the public (focus on older adults, or people of various ages with mobility issues).
Through the three rounds of engagement carried out between 2016 – 2019, Traverse engaged with a total of 170 stakeholders and members of the public in different locations around the UK.
Traverse organised a workshop (year 1) and small number of telephone interviews (year 2) with key stakeholders in order to help understand users’ experiences, needs, and the pragmatic challenges and opportunities that CAVs present for older people and those with mobility and/or sensory impairments.
The workshop sought input from a range of stakeholders, including organisations connected with older people’s mobility and wellbeing as well as those who represent motorists and transport providers. The half day workshop involved a combination of small group and plenary discussions to explore participants’ views on:
- the opportunities and challenges associated with developing driverless vehicles;
- the needs of different users of these vehicles and the journeys they might want to make; and
- the functionality and accessibility of the interface they would use to control the vehicle and connect to data and services during their journey.
Engagement with the public
Each year, Traverse ran a series of focus groups with members of the public to understand their needs and expectations relating to CAVs including views about the human machine interface. Target groups included:
- people who were 70-years and above at the time of taking part;
- people in their 50s and 60s at the time of taking part; (i.e. people who will be 70 to 80 years old at the time the technology is likely to be introduced more widely)
- people of all ages who currently rely on some form of assistive mobility technology; and
- people who are relatives and/or carers of those who are 70+ or who rely on a form of assistive mobility technology.
We also engaged young people with mobility issues through the use of a video diary project.
Our research and engagement focused on exploring user trust in different aspects of CAV technology and understanding what features customers might need to enhance their mobility in terms of vehicle design. All feedback from the engagement was reported back to project partners to feed into product design and CAV trials where possible.
The wider FLOURISH project had the following objectives:
- Develop an understanding and articulation of user needs and expectations of CAVs to maximise the mobility potential they offer.
- Develop usable adaptive interfaces, performance certification processes, products and services that enable secure, trustworthy and private technology within CAVs.
- Capitalise on the large volume of data created by CAVs to develop innovative new tools and products.
- Leverage existing investment in the Bristol City-Region to expand validation and test capabilities in both urban and interurban networked environments and enhance the commercial opportunities this will deliver.
As a partner of the consortium, Traverse’s work had the following impact:
- The views of stakeholders and the public helped to inform the vehicle trialling and development of the technology and services that are being taken forward by FLOURISH partners. This research and engagement was designed to complement and inform the simulator and pod trials that were being undertaken by the University of the West of England, Designability and other partners.
- Through our ongoing engagement on these issues we added to the wealth of knowledge available and through publishing our reports on the Flourish website we made this publicly available. We produced outputs in different formats, producing two videos and one animation, as well as written reports which increases the likelihood of the outputs being viewed.
- Through working with 14 other partners we have introduced principles of good engagement and helped partners in lots of different types of organisation to understand the differences between engagement and research.
- The outputs from Traverse’s involvement in FLOURISH will be further used to promote the advantages of engaging on difficult, futuristic topics and to show that the public’s ability to engage with such topics is often greater than people assume.
Click below to see our animation on perceptions on driverless vehicles.