Friday Seminar: Autonomous Vehicles

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Tomorrow's TRANSOC Friday Seminar features University of Texas Professor Kara Kockelman presenting, "Autonomous Vehicles: Anticipating Impacts in a World of Increasingly Shared Mobility." 

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) represent a potentially disruptive and beneficial change to the way in which we travel. This new technology will impact roadway safety and congestion, air quality and traveler choices. We estimate the private benefits of each AV (to individual owners) to be on the order of $2,000 per year in the near term, rising to $3,000 eventually, thanks to crash savings, travel time reductions, fuel savings, and parking benefits. When crash savings for others are included, net social benefits are estimated at over $6,000 per AV.

Nevertheless, many barriers to AV implementation and mass-market penetration exist. Initial costs will be too high for most buyers, and U.S. licensing and testing standards are being developed at the state level, rather than under a national framework, which may lead to inconsistencies across states. Liability details remain undefined, security concerns linger, and, absent new privacy standards, a default lack of privacy for personal travel may become the norm. Finally, many impacts, interactions with other components of the transportation system, and implementation details remain uncertain for this new and exciting technology.

This seminar also examines the design and results of an agent-based model for Shared Autonomous Vehicle (SAV) operations, including environmental impacts of a fleet of shared and self-driving vehicles. The model generates trips throughout a grid-based urban area, to mimic realistic travel patterns and departure times. An initial model run estimates the SAV fleet size required to reasonably service all trips, over a 24-hour period. Next, the model is run over 100 days, with driverless vehicles ferrying travelers from one destination to the next. During each 5-minute interval, some unused SAVs relocate to shorten wait times for next-period travelers.

Model applications vary trip generation rates, trip distribution patterns, network congestion levels, service area size, vehicle relocation strategies, and fleet size. Preliminary results indicate that each SAV can replace around eleven conventional vehicles, while adding up to 10% more travel distance than conventional trip-making, resulting in overall beneficial emissions impacts, once fleet-efficiency changes and embodied (versus in-use) emissions are assessed.

The seminar will be from 4-5 PM  in 534 Davis. Cookie Hour will be at 3:30 in the library.