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Automated Vehicles for a Sustainable City

Automated Vehicles for a Sustainable City

Image by Jared Murray of Unsplash

(Dow Fellows Program 2014) 

The development of automated and connected vehicle technology brings with it the potential to radically transform our transportation system and vastly improve mobility services and environmental outcomes. However, ACV technology deployed on the wrong path presents huge potential environmental costs in the form of transportation rebound and increased fuel consumption. The ultimate goal for ACV technology deployment should thus be a shared vehicle model that can reduce carbon emissions and travel costs through automation, electrification, and vehicle right-sizing.

Based on these enablers, barriers, and the characteristics of transportation in Ann Arbor, the Dow Fellows team analyzed several options for ACV deployment depending on the level of automation, as well as identified the most attractive option for deployment as a fleet of Level 4 driverless small buses or vans that could supplement Ann Arbor’s existing AAATA bus system and replace full-sized buses on less-traveled routes. This model could improve personal mobility within the city, particularly for households without access to a private vehicle, and could improve the environmental impacts of AAATA’s bus service. It would also serve as an important proof of concept for a model of mobility that favors shared ACV use instead of private household ACV ownership