Sponsor: U.S. Department of Transportation, Pacific Southwest Region 9 UTC
PI: Steven R. Gehrke
Co-PIs: Edward J. Smaglik and Brendan J. Russo
Information and communication technology advancements and an increased demand for contactless deliveries after the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak resulted in the growing adoption of automated delivery services. Across university campuses, the deployment of sidewalk autonomous delivery robots (SADRs) has provided students, staff, and faculty a convenient last-mile delivery option. However, SADRs traverse campuses on pathways designed for pedestrians and bicyclists, which could potentially result in conflicts among different pathway users and unsafe travel conditions. This research project—comprising two studies—offered evidence on the objective safety and perceived comfort experienced by pedestrians and bicyclists interacting with SADRs on multi-use paths. In the first study, SADR interactions with human pathway users observed via field-recorded video collected at Northern Arizona University (NAU) campus were examined by employing the surrogate safety measure of post-encroachment time. The second study analyzed the reported (dis)comfort of SADR-involved interactions filmed from pedestrian and bicyclist perspectives and collected via the administration of a survey instrument to an NAU population with experience in the adoption of automated food delivery services and SADR-involved interactions. This research project’s results are intended to help inform new facility management strategies that support the safe introduction of SADRs on shared-use facilities in current and future settings.