User acceptance and adoption of new transport technologies


Contact Dr Yvonne Barnard to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

New transport systems, such as driver support systems, are usually of a highly complex nature and consist of both hardware and software that are not understandable for non-experts, however, some understanding of how the system works is necessary to be able to use them. Users of systems have mental models of how a system works and what it can and cannot do. A mental model is an internal representation employed to encode, predict, evaluate, and communicate the consequences of perceived and intended changes to the operator’s current state within the dynamic environment (Goodrich & Boer, 1998). Mental models include: goals that the driver wants to reach by using the system, the actions the driver believes to be able to perform with the system or, in the case of automated systems, the actions the system is able to perform, the results of the actions in different situations, and the way to assess those results. Wrong ways of using systems, or making errors in using them, may be the consequence of an inadequate model. Having inadequate models may also lead to users not wanting to use technologies that may in principle be beneficial to them. An example is elderly drivers not wanting or daring to use driver support systems.

The project will investigate mental models of users in relation to their intention to use new technologies. Use will be made of the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (Venkatesh et al. 2003). The project will relate to the EPSRC funded BRIDGE project (Building Relationships with the ‘Invisible’ in the Digital Global Economy), which is concerned with investigating the needs of people who do not adopt technologies. The project will make use of different research methods: focus groups, interviews, and experimental work.

Suggested reading:

Goodrich, M. A., & Boer, E. R. (1998). Semiotics and Mental Models: Modeling Automobile Driver Behavior. In: Proceedings of the 1998 IEEE ISIC/CIRA,/ISAS Joint Conference, p. 771-776. Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA.

Venkatesh V., Morris M.G., Davis G.B., & Davis F.D.. (2003). User acceptance of information technology: Toward a unified view. MIS Quarterly 27(3), 425-478.

Vlassenroot S., Brookhuis K. Marchau V. and Witlox F.(2008). Measuring acceptance and acceptability of ITS. TRAIL Research School, Delft.

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from candidates with or expecting a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1), and/or a Master's degree in the relevant subject area.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is the ‘User acceptance and adoption of new transport technologies' as well as Dr Yvonne Barnard as your proposed supervisor.

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

If you require any further information please contact the Graduate School Office e:, t: +44 (0)113 34 35326.