The National Academies

NCHRP 20-102(34) [Pending]

Toolbox for Navigating the Land-Use Impacts of the Automated Vehicle Ecosystem
[ NCHRP 20-102 (Impacts of Connected Vehicles and Automated Vehicles on State and Local Transportation Agencies--Task-Order Support) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $450,000
Contract Time: 22 months
Staff Responsibility: Trey Joseph Wadsworth


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).

Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.


Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.

Proposers are encouraged to propose and sequence tasks in the manner they think are most effective to complete the research with two project phases. The proposal should identify project milestones and any interim deliverables associated with the proposed tasks (such as technical memorandums or summary reports, etc.). An Interim Report (IR) should be included as a deliverable at the midpoint of the proposed research timeline. The proposer should use the IR to distinctly reflect Phase I and include an updated research plan for Phase II. Proposers should be creative and inclusive in devising how to bring together stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and geographies. Virtual engagement methods are desired.

The elements of research tasks envisioned to be necessary to meet the research objective are described below, but proposers are encouraged to consider these elements in their proposed tasks and deliverables as they think would be most effective and are encouraged to suggest additional activities.

  • Conduct a literature review and synthesize the current state of practice. Review existing research and practice to identify both qualitative and quantitative approaches, strategies, methods, and frameworks to include in the toolbox.

  • Summarize historical examples of transformative mobility technologies and their impacts on transportation systems and land-use patterns. Draw parallels and correlate to the AV ecosystem. Identify the path dependencies between mobility innovations and the choices made throughout history in land-use decisions (zoning, urban design, building codes, etc.) which may now constrain or benefit the deployment of the AV ecosystem.

  • Describe and illustrate different community contexts, or typologies, that typify different planning contexts throughout the United States. The typologies will be used in the toolbox to assist planners in identifying the tools most appropriate for the community typology similar to their context. The development of typologies could be informed by urban and rural settings, density patterns, socioeconomic or cultural characteristics, etc. The community typologies should be linked to potential business models for AV deployment and potential impacts. Barriers and opportunities for AV deployment due to land-use patterns in each community typology should be identified.

  • An engagement of potential users of the toolbox and planning is desired after the historical examples summary is drafted and community typologies are identified. Input is desired to understand how practitioners desire the AV ecosystem to serve their communities. Proposers are encouraged to consider the services of a futurist to assist with this engagement. What is missing in a planner’s existing toolbox to achieve those desires should be, at a minimum, one outcome of the engagement.

  • Identify qualitative and quantitative indicators and/or performance metrics to (1) help plan for the AV ecosystem, (2) monitor for negative impacts, and (3) measure if positive impacts are accruing to communities.
    • Qualitative indicators may include community satisfaction/public support, the existence of AV supportive regulatory frameworks and policies, or quality of life.
    • Quantitative indicators may include access to destinations; congestion mitigation; environmental changes; equity; impacts on multimodal systems and services; job creation/retention; safety; cost of residential, commercial, and industrial real estate; or user cost benefits.
    • Identify data sources needed for quantitative approaches to potentially include in the toolbox.
    • An engagement of potential toolbox users is desired to gain feedback on the identified indicators.

  • Develop use cases for the toolbox that consider the identified community typologies, qualitative, and quantitative indicators. Use cases should be demonstrated and documented to serve as examples to planners on how they could use similar approaches in their context. How, when, and why departments of transportation (DOTs) and local land-use agencies should partner should be identified in all use cases.

  • An engagement of potential toolbox users should be executed to validate the use cases before the toolbox is prepared.

  • Develop the toolbox of qualitative and quantitative frameworks, goal-setting processes, self-assessment guides, strategies, methods, tools, indicators/metrics, policies, and/or communication aids.

Anticipated final deliverables include (1) a toolbox presented in Microsoft Word, (2) a Conduct of Research Report that documents the research effort, (3) a PowerPoint presentation with speaker notes that summarizes the project, (4) a draft article suitable for publication in the TR News (no guarantee of publication is implied), and (5) an Implementation Plan.

Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

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