Implications of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

ITE Annual Meeting – Boston, MA August 2013 Roundtable Discussion

John Lower, Associate Vice President, Iteris, and Richard Beaubien, Managing Director, Beaubien Engineering LLC, facilitated a discussion on Connected Vehicles; its current state, the role ITE plays, and where to go from here. The discussion yielded both questions and answers.

There was agreement that ITE members would be impacted by connected and autonomous vehicles. Infrastructure must be compatible with these vehicles in the future. Research is needed on the infrastructure implications of connected vehicles. Exactly what are connected and autonomous vehicles? ITE must work with original equipment manufacturers to understand the capabilities of connected vehicles. ITE should anticipate a vehicle fleet with and without DSRC communication capabilities. We understand that connected vehicles will desire data from Traffic Management Centers and Traffic Operations Centers. ITE members need more awareness of connected vehicles. A breakout of connected vehicle technology is expected soon. The auto industry and the users are the drivers of these technologies, and ITE members need to get on board. ITE members should reach out to the auto industry to learn what they need from us. How do we get to standards for the field equipment needed to implement autonomous and connected vehicles? How do we transition from analog to digital and what are the implications for infrastructure? We need to share our data on traffic signal phasing and timing, work zones, and signing.

We need information on implications for transportation facility capacity and delay. What are the priority opportunities from connected vehicles for ITE? How do we standardize date so we can share it? Should we just be reactive? What are the implications for transportation planning in the future? Single occupant vehicles may be more popular than transit. What are the implications of the capacity increase provided by connected vehicles? Person miles traveled may decrease while vehicle miles traveled increases. What are the parking implications? What are all the implications? How do we help with the transition period? ITE addresses design and operations issues.

The added vehicle costs may not be great (less than $5000 – $10,000). Are public agencies still liable? What happens when the system is down? What are the implications for road maintenance? Do we need specific lanes and separate flows for autonomous vehicles? ITE should embrace and guide connected vehicles. What are the implications for speed limits? How do connected vehicles fit into complete streets?

Test “smart” roads/cities. Use big data more. Understand technology refreshment, quick turnover. Maybe a Level 2.5 adaptive cruise in stop/go. Maybe a Level 4 + in premium cars? Big data could input driver behavior and incorporate it into design. ITE should be a part of the nomenclature development. Educate ITE members. Implications on induced demand could increase active transportation by safety and smoother operations. Next generation transportation thinking will guide the role for ITE as this new technology evolves.