Deliberations from Expert Workshop on Shared Mobility and Automation from the Road Vehicle Automation Workshop Objective

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Deliberations from Expert Workshop on Shared Mobility and Automation from the Road Vehicle Automation Workshop
Objective: To highlight the issues and discuss the research evidence regarding automation and its effect on shared mobility and transit, and other consequences of different automation levels.

Methods: Information included is based on presentations and discussions at a 3-day workshop on automation of road vehicles.

Results: The presentations indicate that higher automation levels might be here sooner rather than later. While some agencies have already started to think how this will affect them many, if not most, may have little awareness of the mobility opportunities of these technologies that may well obsolete some of their planned approaches to n=meet future needs. The safety and mobility gain that may well be delivered each level of automationdeserves their attention, not only for highways but also how automation may enhance the delivery of a full range of mobility through transit and shared mobility that provides much more cost efficient mobility to a wider population and especially for the disadvantaged population (e.g., disabled and geographically secluded).

Conclusions: Jurisdictions and legal frameworks for truly driverless (“Level 4”) vehicles may be the main issue impeding the market introduction of personal autonomous vehicles; however, there may be opportunities for organizational entities such as a private, non-profit or public transit entity to utilize and manage automation to more easily address these limitations in the provision of enhanced mobility to the public at large. Indeed, driverless (Level 4) “high speed” mass transit exists now in restricted environments, for example, APMs at airports and at “low speeds” in mixed (pedestrians, cross traffic, etc.) environments, for example, la Rochelle. The opportunities for transit are for the evolving forms of automation in mixed environments to provide substantial safety and limited performance enhancements in the near term as the automation technology is being refined (Levels 2 and 3) to the evolution to Level 4 at “high speeds” in order to allow for the capture of the substantial mobility and performance gains that can result from area-wide demand responsive transit services and shared car opportunities. Therefore, there is a clear need for integrating driver-assist and driverless urban transit systems into future planning. Supplementary materials are available for this article. Go to the publisher’s online edition of Vehicle Automation ( for the following supplemental resource: List of workshop participants.
Keywords: automation, shared mobility, automated transit,


The automation of road vehicles has been an active and controversial topic for discussion for the past two decades. In July 2013, a group of Transportation Research Board (TRB) Subcommittees related to vehicle automation held a workshop at Stanford University, CA to discuss the main issues and research needs surrounding the automation of road vehicles. The purpose of the workshop was not to make recommendations or come to a consensus on the application of automation and what policies to develop. Rather, the intention was to highlight the issues and to discuss the research evidence and needs regarding safety, mobility, and other consequences of vehicle automation. Over 300 people participated in the 3-day workshop, with a strong presence of key government, industry, and academic experts on vehicle automation from different part of the world. The workshop was mostly oriented toward the U.S. situation, but the international representation provided valuable perspective. Ten breakout groups met simultaneously in which several multidisciplinary challenges of road vehicle automation where discussed. Each breakout was planned by experts in the discipline. The main objectives off all sessions were to establish opportunities and challenges, based on which research needs statements could be developed. The breakout sessions were as follow:

  • Automated commercial vehicle operations

  • Cybersecurity and resiliency

  • Data ownership, access, protection, and discovery

  • Energy and environment

  • Human factors and human-machine interaction

  • Infrastructure and operations

  • Liability, risk, and insurance

  • Shared mobility and transit

  • Testing, certification, and licensing

  • V2X communication and architecture

Current evidence suggests that full automation may be achieved sooner than expected. London’s Heathrow Airport has implemented driverless vehicles on guided roadways for small groups of passengers. In the United States, several states, including Nevada, California and Florida have enacted legislation that expressly allows the operation of self-driving vehicles under certain conditions. Hence the need for immediate research on this topic.

The present article is an effort to share highlights of the workshop with participants as well as with the broader research community. It is not an official report of the TRB Subcommittee on Vehicle Automation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of all of the workshop participants, although it takes these into consideration. In preparing this report, all PowerPoint presentations and supplemental notes on the proceedings provided by volunteers were reviewed, highlighting major themes and discussion points that emerged. Basically, the article covers what we have learned from research studies and experiences about the integration of autonomous vehicles in transit and how it would affect shared mobility. It concludes with a list of key research needs that emerged from the workshop and from subsequent discussions by the coauthors in the preparation of this article.

Presentations and discussions included, but were not limited to, the following topics:

  • Automation and its effect on shared mobility and congestion.

  • Integrating automated vehicles with existing and future transit services.

  • Risks of automation.

  • Automation vehicles for mass transportation: its capabilities, requirements and benefits.

  • Legal frameworks applied in other countries.

  • Vehicle ownership vs. transit: how will autonomous vehicle affect this ratio.

  • Automation and its effect on the mobility of disadvantaged population (e.g., disabled).

  • Empty vehicle and parking management.

[Should we include an acknowledgement of the presenters and the title of their presentations?]

We should list them in the Appendix along with links to them
Automation: definition and levels

Self-driving, vehicles can be defined as those in which control operations of the vehicle, such as steering, acceleration, and braking, occurs without direct driver input for at least part of journey. In its most rudimentary form, self-driving requires the driver to remain vigilant and ready to re-assume control of the vehicle with little warning. In such cases, these systems provide only secondary assistance to the driver (Levels 0-2). More enhanced systems are robust enough to allow the driver to perform other tasks but lack sufficient scope to be able to handle all driving environments; however, they are capable of differentiating those environments so as to always be able to implement a fail-safe maneuver or alert the driver to regain control (Level 3). The ultimate in automation is achieved when the robustness of the automation is sufficiently great that it can handle all expected driving environments using fail-safe maneuvers without the assistance of a human driver. (Level 4) These levels of automation as proposed by , National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHT13] are:

  • Level 0: No-Automation. The driver is in complete and sole control of the primary vehicle controls – brake, steering, throttle, and motive power – at all times.

  • Level 1: Function-specific Automation. Involves one or more specific control functions like electronic stability control or pre-charged brakes.

  • Level 2: Combined Function Automation. This level involves automation of at least two primary control functions designed to work in unison (e.g., adaptive cruise control in combination with lane centering).

  • Level 3: Limited Self-Driving Automation. Vehicles at this level of automation enable the driver to cede full control of all safety-critical functions under certain traffic but the driver is expected to be available for occasional control. The Google car is an example of limited self-driving automation.

  • Level 4: Full Self-Driving Automation. The vehicle is designed to perform all safety- critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip. This includes both occupied and unoccupied vehicles.

General Themes of Discussion During Shared Mobility and Transit Breakout Session

A. Improving Quality of Life for Mobility Impaired

Various issues in regard to mobility were discussed, with special emphasis on the mobility challenged population. Current transit and personal transportation options partially meet the needs of segments of our society that are mobility challenged, lacking the ability to own and operate an automobile and dependent on alternate modes of transportation. These group includes various demographics, such as the very young, the very old, physical disabilities, and economically constrained. According to the 2010 Census, approximately 56.7 million people (18.7 percent) of the 303.9 million in the civilian non-institutionalized population had a disability in 2010 [Bra12]. However, as a recent contact with the National Institute for the Blind aptly phrased, ‘Being blind is an inconvenience, not be able to drive is a handicap.’ Having access to transportation alternatives, even partially, enables freedom from social, economic, and physical isolation. Transit systems enabled by automated road vehicles such as ATN and PRT hold promise to greatly enhance mobility. However, the extent to which such technology can enhance mobility has not been fully researched, relying mainly on subjective analysis
B. Testing autonomous vehicles: how good is “good enough” and who decides?
C. Implementation and limitations of Level 3: what can be achieved right now
D. Legal framework for automation in the United States
E. Insuring shared mobility

The workshop was successful in identifying key research needs; however, time proved to be a hindering factor, preventing full discussion of topics concerning road vehicle automation. There is good evidence for the mobility benefits of autonomous vehicles, but there are some implementation issues that could benefit from further research and consideration. The following is a list of topics highlighted during the presentations and discussions, where information would be useful in providing guidance.

[Update with material from the ‘report back presenation’]

  • Interaction between shared mobility and increasing automation level (shared fleets as test bed?)

  • Automation in Public Transit – a Holistic View

  • Promise of Auto-valet Parking: a Panacea or Simply Shifting the Problem

  • Performance Measures for Automated Mobility in Urban Settings

  • Exclusive Guideway vs Open Road

  • Automation Impact on Mobility Impaired

  • Legal Framework For Automated Driverless Transit

  • Integration of Automation and Shared Mobility into the Urban Fabric

  • Future Alternative Analysis for MPOs and NEPA Processes

  • Hazards Framework for Automated Transport Safety

  • Practical / Near-term Issues of Automation in Transit Agencies


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NHT13: , (NHTSA, 2013),

Bra12: , (Brault, 2012),

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