Fully autonomous vehicles, which are still under development, will be a near future reality reaching a 50% market share between now and 2050. It is expected that the sector of autonomous cars helps to build more sustainable and integrated mobility systems, reducing massive pollution and congestion, especially in urban scenarios.
There are important differences between men and women about the mode of transport they use and the mobility patterns they perform. According to the “Gender and Transport” study published by the International Transport Forum, in most European countries, men make a greater use of cars and tend to have a more aggressive and risky driving behaviour than women. Moreover, according to the article “Mind the Gender Gap: the hidden data gap in transport (Budstuber, 2019)” women are more likely to perform trip-chaining and mobility care related displacements, including dropping the children at school, one common activity in families with kids with a high gender bias.
In addition, as the article Autonomous Vehicles and Gender (HelmutPflugfelder, 2018) reminds us “future developments should prompt manufacturers to reconsider the design process for autonomous vehicles” -that is, nor to “build feminized cars for women” as past marketing efforts have attempted (see the Dodge LeFemme for mistakes of a similar nature), but to focus on user-centered, iterative testing with a broad range of human bodies and performances in mind.
Because of these differences in gender mobility, it seems necessary to take women’s needs into account for the design of conventional and autonomous vehicles to improve their acceptance within a user-centered development approach.