CVs and AVs have the potential to dramatically improve safety, reduce vehicle emissions, improve maintenance and asset management, and increase mobility.
However, when it comes to implementing and deploying these technologies, much is unknown. Fully automated vehicles may enter the market, but it could take decades for CVs and AVs to reach full fleet penetration. And it is not clear if or when any of the hoped-for benefits will materialize.
Planners should expect a long transition period. Automated, non-automated, connected, and non-connected vehicles will likely coexist for a decade or more as part of a mixed vehicle fleet.
Here are a few key areas of transportation planning that could change if AVs, complimented by CVs, emerge in commercial markets—as with all new technologies, there may be positive and negative impacts:
The transportation planning process is flexible and iterative and is designed to address uncertainty. Despite many unknowns with CVs and AVs, transportation planners can still make informed decisions with existing planning approaches and available information. Some approaches are better suited to address CVs, while others can be used to address the potential impacts of AVs. As these technologies evolve, planners can reevaluate their approaches.
Coordinating across multiple planning strategies is an effective way to handle rapidly emerging new technologies.
Scenario planning is one key planning activity that can help planners understand and respond to CV and AVs technologies. Additional resources are available to coordinate performance-based planning with scenario planning and scenario planning with operations and systems management.
Methods developed to support Planning for Operations are relevant in assessing CV projects, especially vehicle-to-infrastructure investments. Techniques for assessing Intelligent Transportation System investments also apply to CVs.
Finally, Performance-Based Planning and Programming is an effective way of responding to rapidly developing technologies of all types. Performance-Based Planning for Operations provides additional resources for integrating new vehicle and roadway technologies into planning and programming.
An essential step in performance-based approaches is for agencies to develop clear visions of desirable outcomes. Another key element is to gather and analyze data on fleet penetration and roadway operations, including results from industry, research projects, and pilot deployments. Based on their vision and data collection programs, agencies can develop and use performance measures to assess progress toward the desired outcomes, and to design and select projects that offer the best return on investment.
PLANNING TECHNIQUES TO ADDRESS CONNECTED AND AUTOMATED VEHICLES
Connected Vehicles (CV), implemented for example through Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) technology, apply emerging communication and intelligent transportation technologies to improve the safety, mobility, and efficiency of the transportation system. V2I investments are under consideration today by many planning agencies. Planning techniques for evaluating investments in CV include Planning for Operations, Performance-Based Planning, and Scenario Planning.
Automated Vehicles (AV) are finding their way onto our highways in increasing numbers. There are many uncertainties in what AVs will be able to do, how they will be deployed, and how the public will use them. That makes it impossible to know today whether AVs will call for new investments, or whether AVs will make certain future planned investments obsolete before they are built. In addition, regulatory decisions made outside the planning process will have a significant (and still unknown) effect on how AVs are deployed. Key planning activities include discussing AVs during the planning process, revisiting the discussions regularly during planning document update cycles, and regularly re-assessing what we are learning from pilot projects and on-road testing. Planning techniques that can be used to develop responses to AVs include Scenario Planning and Performance-Based Planning and Programming.