Connectivity and automation technologies are expected to fundamentally alter transportation by significantly improving safety, increasing the efficiency of freight operations, and providing new mobility options for some population groups, such as the elderly and individuals with disabilities. Despite these expected benefits, it remains uncertain how the adoption of these technologies is going to affect other important aspects of transportation systems, including individual and network demand and the capacity of various transportation facilities.
This research estimates the impacts of connected and autonomous vehicles on transportation systems using analytical and simulation methods. We focus on impacts related to transportation capacity, demand, land use, freight, energy use, and vehicle emissions. Despite the multiple uncertainties, we attempt to provide reliable predictions, to the extent possible, by utilizing assumptions informed from extensive literature review and expert opinion. The research team is comprised of a group of seven engineering faculty members and six graduate research assistants who worked collaboratively during the project duration.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and specifically, NCDOT’s Transportation Planning Branch can use the results of this research to inform decision making related to autonomous and connected vehicle regulation, pilot design, and long-range transportation plans. The results of this research will enable transportation planners at NCDOT as well as at the regional and local level to consider the effects of these emerging vehicle technologies when evaluating policy and planning decisions and prevent, to the extent that is possible, any negative externalities.