Can autonomous vehicles co-exist with bicyclists and pedestrians?

While major automakers rush to promote the next level of autonomous features and release videos of hand-free driving, serious questions have been raised about whether autonomous vehicles will be able to safely co-exist with bicyclists and pedestrians. A recent essay from a researcher in robotics—written after a test drive in a Tesla—points out the problems posed by bicycles for AV programmers and drivers. Attentive human drivers will still be needed until those problems are solved.

Cities testing out autonomous buses, but is it worth the risk?

Six weeks ago, Arlington, TX, approved a 6-month lease (with an option to renew for another 6 months) of two EZ10 driverless shuttles to fill a gap for more precise transportation needs for residents of and visitors to the city. These vehicles will cost the city about $270,000 over the course of two years, should the city decide to extend this pilot project that long. The Eno Center for Transportation’s Greg Rogers and Paul Lewis did a “back of the envelope” cost analysis comparing the EZ10 with the capital and operating expenses of a traditional passenger van.

Shifting to driverless ride-hailing services—disruption, convergence, adaptation

A new policy guide focusing on automated vehicle ride-hailing services argues convincingly for leaders in city government to set policies to govern this rapidly developing transportation service. The guide makes the case that cities, counties, and states should get out in front of this coming reality with policies designed to assure the most benefits for the city and its resident.

Automated vehicles will bring big highway capacity increases

As the transportation field grapples with the impending impacts of automated vehicles, one AV-related outcome seems clear: Highway capacity will dramatically expand. Because automatic braking systems react much faster than human drivers do, safe spacing on freeways can be reduced by about half. As a result, the current rule of thumb that a freeway lane can handle a flow of 2,000 vehicles per hour will be radically changed.

Automated vehicles will bring big highway capacity increases

As the transportation field grapples with the impending impacts of automated vehicles, one AV-related outcome seems clear: Highway capacity will dramatically expand. Because automatic braking systems react much faster than human drivers do, safe spacing on freeways can be reduced by about half. As a result, the current rule of thumb that a freeway lane can handle a flow of 2,000 vehicles per hour will be radically changed.

Searching for policy responses to the promise and threat of automated vehicles

Policy around automated vehicles is expressed more in questions than answers at this point. The answers to many of the questions depend in part on the policy responses at all levels of government. And two recent documents begin to provide some answers, if only through a glass darkly. They are too detailed to easily summarize in a blog, so we recommend that interested readers click through and read them.

Nevada green-lights autonomous trucks

Truck platooning, connecting a chain of computer-controlled trucks electronically to follow a human-driven lead vehicle, is still at least 5 years away from being used commercially, but the next step in freight transport automation is already coming over the horizon. Earlier this month Nevada authorized the testing of self-driving trucks on the state’s highways.

Adoption of autonomous vehicles: Addressing the details

Although the mass media has been quick to tout the practicalities of switching to autonomous vehicles, many complexities are also apparent. At the recent TRB meeting the number of papers highlighting the opportunities and challenges associated with these vehicles made a clear statement about the enormity of the change DOTs, MPOs, and policy makers anticipate. And a recent paper from the University of Michigan lays out considerations that raise questions about whether autonomous vehicles will smoothly transition into mainstream usage.

In preparing for autonomous vehicles, agencies can make needed changes

The potential impacts of autonomous and connected vehicles on travel behavior and transportation system design have been the focus of much discussion and speculation. While it is still unclear what those impacts will be, the technology is advancing quickly, causing many states and transportation agencies to consider adaptations necessary to accommodate it.