Emerging Approaches to Autonomous Vehicles in Transportation Policy and Planning

Emerging Approaches to Autonomous Vehicles in Transportation Policy and Planning

Principal Investigator: Thaddeus Miller, Assistant Professor, School for the Future of Innovation in Society and The Polytechnic School
Co-Principal Investigators: Ram M. Pendyala, Director, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment | John MacArthur, Sustainable Transportation Program Manager, Transportation Research and Education Center, Portland State University
Project Duration: 12 months
​Project Budget (Federal UTC Funds): $64,000
Project Budget (Cost-share): $32,000
Institution: Arizona State University

As autonomous vehicles (AVs) emerge, cities must grapple with how to utilize and manage these new disruptive technologies to advance public policy goals and deliver urban services related to public health, equity, economic development, mobility, and sustainability. Yet, cities and their communities and governmental institutions remain largely reactive in how they manage and integrate emerging technologies into policies, regulations and existing socio-technical systems. Instead, urban governments and communities must learn how to anticipate the potential impacts of emerging technologies (Guston 2014) and manage them based on community needs and values. Transportation planning models, for example, form the basis for transportation infrastructure planning, investment and development. The models are typically updated every 5-10 years and based on one-day travel survey data. As a result, AVs are not currently easily captured in the models or in the transportation planning process. AVs offer an opportunity to re-think how people and goods move around. As such, AVs could be a catalyst for new mobility policy and planning. Yet, AVs might also further entrench car culture in automobile dominated cities, drawing people away from other modes, including biking and public transit, with significant implications on land use, equity and mobility access. If cities are to seize the wider opportunity presented by the emergence of AVs, now is the time to develop policy and infrastructure solutions. This study will explore how policy, planning and modeling approaches to AVs are emerging in metropolitan planning organizations in the US. The results will provide the most comprehensive assessment of AV policy and planning to date and offer an opportunity to reflect on the limitations of current approaches and possibilities for future efforts.

Research Products and Implementation

Scope of Work

Final Report