Implications of Autonomous Vehicles on Travel Behavior and Planning

Document Type:Thesis

Subject Area:Engineering

Document 1

However, it was not until the 1980s when major automobile companies including Nissan, general motors, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Audi, and Volvo developed the first functional prototypes. Automated vehicles are operational in various cities in the developed world. Cities such as Phoenix have operational autonomous vehicles in operation. Autonomous vehicles are also operational in other cities such as Austin, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada. One of the great technological advances that have facilitated the development of autonomous vehicles technology is the internet. The cars are expected to reduce road accidents, reduce traveling costs and make traveling more efficient. However, the impact of the vehicles in the society will be determined by the appeal of the vehicles to the public. Discussion Before discussing the effect of the self-driving vehicles on traveling patterns and behaviors, it is important to address the appeal of the vehicles to the public.

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A survey was conducted in 2016 by the Texas A & M Transportation Institute to find out how the American Society living in Austin Texas perceived the autonomous vehicles. Austin was chosen since it had a higher car ownership per household compared to the average American household car ownership (Johanna et al. However, the interviewees who indicated that the self-driving cars would influence the number of vehicles they owned gave out some ideas worth discussing. Those who expected to reduce the number of vehicles cited the ability of the self-driving vehicles to multitask as their reason for reducing the vehicles they owned. For instance, a self-driving vehicle can take a person to work and then return home for other services such as driving kids to school.

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The autonomous vehicles would therefore not need to lie in the parking spaces idly since they can avail themselves to the owner when needed. Basically, the ability of self-driving cars to be effectively used in car-sharing programs will reduce the demand for cars in households (Jerome et al. For instance, autonomous vehicles which act as mobile offices, bedrooms or lounges could be made to allow people to undertake their activities while traveling. In other words, travelers will have the freedom to engage themselves in the activities they wish to and which may not be advisable in the conventional vehicles. Moreover, the autonomous technology is likely to encourage long distance travels by buy cars since they will be more available, convenient, and less expensive than the available means such as air and railway transport (Stefan et al.

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The 2016 Austin survey further supports the impact of self-driving cars on long-distance travel. The data collected showed that people are likely to travel long distance by vehicles more often if the vehicles are self-driving. Moreover, drivers also react differently to vehicles slowing in front of them. The differences in the driving skills are known to be contributors to traffic congestion. The use of autonomous vehicles is expected to reduce traffic congestions by allowing vehicles to move in ways human drivers cannot achieve. For example, autonomous vehicles have the capability to achieve lower headways and maximum throughputs. Furthermore, it is predicted that autonomous vehicles will increase car-sharing programs as well as improve public transit systems (Jerome et al. Moreover, autonomous driving is also expected to greatly reduce road accidents which are mostly caused by errors made by human drivers.

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