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Christian Amsler, government president of Schaffhausen, and Winfried Kretschmann, Premier of Baden-Wuerttemberg, inside one of the autonomous buses. Photo: Patrick Seeger via Getty Images

The Swiss state of Shauffhausen was the first in the world to incorporate an autonomous bus into regular route public transit in mixed traffic, a service that has transported over 12,000 passengers since it began in March. City and transit officials tasked a research team with conducting a public survey on the program's performance.

Why it matters: While the participants seem to have some concerns and unanswered questions about the transition to autonomous vehicles, the autonomous bus enjoyed high levels of approval. Public acceptance and support are key to the success of AVs in public transportation, and these results bode well for other cities looking to try autonomous buses in their transit systems.

Overall, rider concerns were low, and the project received support from the majority of the population, with around 60% of participants judging it useful. Participants showed relatively high trust in the AV technical systems themselves. System safety and reliability earned the highest approval ratings.

Yes, but: Riders were most concerned about the potential hacking of the vehicle’s software and data. Other highly ranked concerns were the interaction of the AV with cyclists and pedestrians and its reactions to unexpected situations or bad weather. Those in the 18–40 age group had more worries about the loss of jobs that AV technology could bring about. Participants were also apprehensive about transmission of data from AVs if the technology was used in their own cars: A majority objected to the sharing of data with insurance companies and the state Road Traffic Department, and even more to the Swiss Federal Tax Administration.

What’s next: The research team plans to conduct at least two more follow-up surveys in the coming year to track how attitudes change as usage of the autonomous buses continues and expands. These studies, along with others being planned in the U.S., will help guide cities rolling out their own pilot AV programs.

Paul Comfort is vice president of business development at Trapeze Group and the former CEO of the Maryland Transit Administration in Baltimore.

Go deeper: Read the full study.

Go deeper

Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

Mike Pompeo shells out for media makeover

Via "Fox News Sunday"

Mike Pompeo's political action committee spent $30,000 on media training from last March to June — the most on any service beyond payroll during the first six months of 2021.

Why it matters: The former secretary of State hasn't just been losing weight but working to hone his media skills amid speculation about a possible presidential run, records show.

45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan infrastructure group takes on election reform

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The bipartisan group focused on updating the Electoral Count Act of 1887 is seizing on this recess period to court senators more freely.

Why it matters: The group is led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and includes many members who helped reach the bipartisan infrastructure deal. They see themselves as the only hope of creating an election reform package able to muster 60 votes in the Senate.