Examining the challenges and opportunities of autonomous vehicles to urban planning

Principal Investigator:

Jason Cao, Assistant Professor , Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Co-Investigator

  • Frank Douma, Director, SLPP, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project Summary:

Development and deployment of technologies that will enable widespread use of self-driving, or autonomous, vehicles (AVs) continues at a rapid pace. Enormous amounts of private resources are spurring this phenomenon. In the literature, a good amount of research has been started to examine the penetration scenarios of AVs and their possible impacts on traffic operation, travel behavior, safety, environment, land use, and so on. However, few studies have examined the implications of these changes on specific urban planning issues and offered recommendations for how urban planners should respond to these implications, such that public benefit is maximized. For example, how will the influx of AVs affect transit supply and demand in urban neighborhoods? Is there an equity concern? How will AVs influence the demand for on-street and off-street parking, and how will that influence the functions of local streets? By reviewing the latest and most relevant literature and by holding focus group discussions with relevant stakeholders in the Twin Cities, this research is identifying the key questions planners should be considering. This research is also engaging the planning community in the region to discern optimal timing, processes, and policies that should be engaged in pursuit of these ends.

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