NAS/TRB: Strategies to Advance Automated and Connected Vehicles

Highlights and Conclusions from NAS: Strategies to Advance Automated and Connected Vehicles

Importance of Strategic Goals

Transportation agencies will want to consider how the effects of AV and CV technologies can contribute to broad agency goals, aligning policy actions with agency goals—goals that represent societal interests. This is particularly important where investment of public resources is at stake. Associated strategic planning activities undertaken at a high level may include:

  • Identification of transportation and societal goals and objectives that may be achieved through AV and CV technologies.
  • Development of performance measures that support specific safety, congestion, mobility, and environmental goals that may be supported by AV and CV systems and can be used to track the results of testing and investment in these systems over time.
  • Setting the general parameters under which CV and AV deployment can be facilitated to achieve agency and societal goals.
  • Contributions toward building the business case for investing in CVs, generating support for adoption of safety and mobility applications, and promoting incentives for producers to improve applications and technology.

Eighteen different policy and planning strategies—organized by desired outcome—are provided for policy makers to consider.

OUTCOME: To mitigate safety risks through testing, training, and public education:

  • Enact legislation to legalize AV testing
  • Enact legislation to stimulate CV or AV testing
  • Modify driver training standards and curricula
  • Increase public awareness of benefits and risks

OUTCOME: To encourage shared AV use:

  • (Require or Incentivize) shared AV use
  • Implement transit benefits for SAVs
  • Implement a parking cash-out strategy 
  • Implement location-efficient mortgages
  • Implement land use policies and parking requirements
  • Apply road use pricing

OUTCOME: To address liability issues that may impact market development:

  • Implement a no-fault insurance approach
  • Require motorists to carry more insurance

OUTCOME: To enhance safety, congestion, and air quality benefits by influencing market demand:

  • Subsidize CVs
  • Invest in CV infrastructure
  • Grant AVs and CVs priority access to dedicated lanes
  • Grant signal priority to CVs
  • Grant parking access to AVs and CVs
  • Implement new contractual mechanisms with private-sector providers

Each overview offers a general assessment of strategy viability by a range of criteria:

  • Effectiveness: If the strategy is economic, how well does it internalize external costs into decision making by producers and consumers? If the strategy is not economic, how likely is it to achieve its desired policy outcome?
  • Efficiency: If the strategy is economic, how well does it recover the costs from the externality? How likely is the strategy to produce a net-positive social benefit outcome?
  • Political Acceptability: How likely is the general public to accept this strategy? Are any politically powerful stakeholders likely to oppose the strategy? How likely is the strategy to increase costs, place burdens on low income or socially disadvantaged groups, or result in social inequity?
  • Operational Feasibility: How disruptive is implementation to the implementing agency? Are new or complex governing structures required? Is it expensive to implement? Are new workforce skills or infrastructure adaptation required?
  • Geographic Impact: At what geographic scale does this strategy make the most sense?
  • Who: What level of government would implement this strategy?
  • Hurdles: Are there any notable barriers to implementation?
  • Strategies to Advance Automated and Connected Vehicles


Many OEMs have made bold claims as to their timeframe for making Level 4 AV technology available in new models in the years leading up to 2021*. The timeframe for bringing Level 5 automation technology to market is hard to forecast; however, several studies estimate that Level 5 cars will be available on public roads in the late 2020s**.

At the same time, the federal government has played a significant role in supporting the research, development, and piloting of CV technology. The USDOT Connected Vehicle Pilot Program has examined multiple modes of wireless communication and has continued demonstrations to position Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC)-based CV technology for large-scale deployment. Significant research and standardization has gone into the development of CV technology, specifically related to DSRC. But some companies are developing V2X equipment that uses other forms of wireless communications, including cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. In spite of uncertainties, the transformational nature of AV and CV technologies argues that public agencies
should consider the strategies and possible outcomes to manage public interest concerns.

*Korosec, K. 2015. Elon Musk Says Tesla Vehicles Will Drive Themselves in Two Years. Fortune.
**Cellan-Jones, R. 2015. Toyota Promises Driverless Cars on Roads by 2020. BBC News; Volvo. 2016. Autopilot—Travel Calmer, Safer, Cleaner.

The shared vehicle strategies are most interesting to me in this.  The authors promote Subsidies for SAVs as a strategy but note that “subsidies to incentivize SAV operation in urban areas are simply not needed.  However, SAVs are not likely to serve certain market segments because of the need to turn a profit.  This strategy could entail re-targeting of the subsidies that currently support public transit for specific SAV use cases:  fist-mile/last-mile service, paratransit service, transit deserts and rural areas.  Transit agencies are the most likely implementers of a subsidy strategy for specific SAV use cases because of the potential for budget and operating efficiencies.  Cities also have a role to play in policy making. Optimal timing for exploration of a SAV subsidy is prior to the initiation of a new SAV service.  Examples include Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority first/last mile connection; Orange County Transit Authority in CA paratransit for disabled and elderly, and Gainesville, FL for serving low-income neighborhoods.

“Crash economy” (insurance, healthcare) — what about the “disease economy” from air pollution?