Project 3

Operational and Economic Impacts of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

Focus: Long-range planning models for NCDOT and other public agencies to assess the safety and economic impacts of CAV infrastructure investment

PI: Dr. Srinivas Pulugurtha, UNC Charlotte

Project Description: The world is witnessing a revolution in vehicle technology research. Connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) have recently drawn intense attention from researchers in the field of transportation engineering, particularly on investigating the potential benefits CAVs will bring regarding mobility and safety. Predictions indicate that high-level CAVs will not become ubiquitous in the marketplace for several decades. This increase in demand for CAVs, over time, will have a varying impact on the operational performance and economy pertaining to the transportation network, based on CAV penetration rates. The impacts at various CAV penetration rates could be positive or negative when certain factors are considered at a micro-level. These factors include travel demand and an increase or a decrease in congestion costs, traffic safety, the unemployment rate in the transportation sector, the effect on the energy market, insurance costs, emissions (air quality), and more.

The objectives of this project are to model and evaluate the operational and safety performance of the transportation network at various penetration rates of CAVs, and to research and assess the impact of CAVs on the economy.

Research Impact: The potential outcomes from this project are microscopic simulation models to analyze heterogeneous traffic networks as well as a framework for assessing the operational and economic impacts of CAVs, systematically. These outcomes will provide valuable insights for proactively planning, designing, and operating North Carolina’s transportation network.