Policies for autonomous vehicles come into focus - Mobility Lab

This article was originally published by Brookings. It is co-authored by Annibel Rice, a research assistant temp with Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program.

Autonomous vehicles own today’s hype cycle, and likely for good reason.

While it’s fascinating to daydream about what AVs may look like, how much they will cost, and how they will change our travel habits, business is already booming. Hundreds of companies are engaged in one slice or another of the industry, and deals between companies can regularly exceed $100 million (and even $1 billion).

Governments are not left out of this hype cycle either. On Capitol Hill, in state capitols, and within city halls, public sector teams are moving as fast as possible to safely certify vehicle designs and on-road testing. So far, engineering is the public sector’s primary focus—both in terms of design itself, and how it relates to safety on our streets.

While there are a tremendous amount of engineering decisions to consider as AVs prepare to enter the marketplace, the public sector also must consider how vehicles collectively relate to the built environment.


determine local zoning design roadway alignments invest in new capacity design parking regulations set transportation taxes, and invest in data and people to help manage all those decisions.

It’s a huge suite of responsibilities, and all apply in new ways around AVs.

Advancing conversations around these other public policies—not just engineering and safety—was the focus of a recent event co-convened by Mobility Lab, Brookings, the American Planning Association, George Mason University, the Eno Center for Transportation, and the National League of Cities.

(See another great roundup of the AV Symposium by Jennifer Henaghan of the American Planning Association.)

While it’s hard not to be excited about the potential of automated technology, there was a universal sentiment among attendees that if cities do not set the parameters of when and where AVs operate—and leave AV rollout strictly to market forces—the future urban landscape may only intensify many of the economic, social, and environmental challenges we already face today. Here are the major debates and policy ideas we took away from the symposium:

Ownership models and land use. Looming over the entire day was an unanswerable question: how often will Americans used shared AVs versus ones they privately own?

Click here to read the full article: https://mobilitylab.org/2017/10/18/policies-autonomous-vehicles-come-focus/