The future of transportation is poised to significantly change with the prospect of automated vehicles (AVs) for both passengers and freight. Taken together, this “AV ecosystem,” may result in new travel behavior and corresponding shifts in the design of the built environment (horizontal and vertical infrastructure) and land uses – residential, commercial, and industrial. However, there is deep uncertainty surrounding the timing and scale of AV deployment, level of automation, and the magnitude of impact on travel behavior. This uncertainty poses tremendous challenges to planners in understanding the potential for change – both qualitatively and quantitatively.
A review of transportation and land-use history might provide insights on how transformative mobility technologies impacted communities and travel behavior. Historical examples may qualitatively demonstrate how different communities adapted to change; how policies and strategies impacted the quality of life, equity, and access to destinations; exhibit lessons in unintended consequences for transportation and land use; and how to draw parallels or correlations to the future changes anticipated from the AV ecosystem.
Planners will need nimble methods and tools to estimate the impacts of the rapidly evolving AV ecosystem so they can proactively adapt their planning approaches, provide insights to decision-makers, and ultimately help their communities achieve their goals. An analysis of past experiences could be utilized in supporting quantitative methods and determining assumptions to use in forecasting and to identify data-driven indicators and/or performance metrics. Metrics are needed to help plan for the AV ecosystem, monitor for negative impacts, and measure how the positive impacts, envisioned today, accrue to communities.
Research is needed to identify qualitative and quantitative approaches, strategies, methods, and frameworks so transportation and land-use planners can adapt and pivot as the AV ecosystem deploys.
The objective of this research is to build a scalable and dynamic set of qualitative and quantitative tools, frameworks, strategies, methods, metrics, and communication aids to assist planners with understanding uncertainty and the impacts from the deployment of the AV ecosystem on land use, and to inform decision-making.
The research will complement NCHRP Research Report 924: Foreseeing the Impact of Transformational Technologies on Land Use and Transportation (found at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25580/foreseeing-the-impact-of-transformational-technologies-on-land-use-and-transportation).