Technological innovations in transportation create new economic opportunities. They also raise challenges for policymakers, who need to keep informed of the changes, their potential impacts, and the policy and legal implications.
TPEC researchers study the implications of changing transportation technology and recommend actions for policymakers. Their aim is to ensure that the full economic benefits from transportation innovation are realized—thus enhancing Minnesota's economic competitiveness.
One particular innovation—self-driving vehicles (SDVs)—is potentially transformative and disruptive. The widespread use of these vehicles could dramatically alter transportation infrastructure, land-use patterns, safety, jobs, accessibility, much more.
Task force report, community outreach
TPEC researchers formed a self-driving vehicle (SDV) task force in the spring of 2017 to identify how various SDV deployment strategies could improve mobility and access for transportation-dependent Minnesotans: seniors, people with disabilities, and others who are not able to drive themselves.
The task force was made up of representatives from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Metro Mobility, local governments, nonprofits, and organizations from the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota. At the close of its work, the task force constructed a Matrix of Users to cross-compare geography, barriers to participation, and the potential forms of self-driving transportation that may be implemented in Minnesota. The matrix separated Minnesota’s population into four geography ranges: central city, suburban, small city, and rural locales. Read the Self-Driving Vehicles Task Force Report and Matrix of Users (2017).
As follow-up to the task force, TPEC initiated stakeholder meetings across the state. In Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the researchers held two meetings with representatives from foundations and public agencies, people with disabilities, and others. The team also engaged the Region 9 Board of Directors and other local groups in Mankato and met with Saint Cloud’s area planning organization.
Building on this work, a newer project sought to uncover the needs of transportation-disadvantaged communities in the Twin Cities East Metro area. Researchers conducted interviews with human service providers and transportation practitioners to gain an understanding of transportation challenges and opportunities, as well as potential CAV implications. They also hosted a virtual roundtable with transportation program staff from a variety of organizations to discuss the potential implications of CAVs in urban contexts, with an emphasis on equity. Together, the interviews and roundtable produced a number of key findings. Learn more in a TPEC research brief: Connected and Automated Vehicles: Opportunity for Equity, Accessibility, and Safety (2020).
National conference, journal special issue
At a conference cosponsored by TPEC in 2014, state and national leaders explored the various legal, ethical, technical, and policy dimensions of self-driving vehicles. The conference—Automated Vehicles: The Legal and Policy Road Ahead—featured presentations and discussions of industry and design perspectives, civil liability and insurance, criminal liability, regional and city planning perspectives, and ethics, equity, and access.
Articles based on the conference were published in the spring 2015 issue of the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology, a multidisciplinary journal edited by University of Minnesota faculty and law students.
Roundtables: technologies and transportation equity
A series of roundtable discussions hosted by TPEC in 2016 investigated the policy impacts of new transportation technologies. The roundtables specifically explored the impacts of the digital infrastructure and self-driving vehicles.
Discussion topics included opportunities and obstacles for improved mobility and access for people who cannot drive, possible impacts of self-driving vehicles on urban form, and broader impacts of the digital infrastructure on the physical infrastructure. Participants included U of M faculty and research staff, key members of state and local governments, and interested citizens.
Video: Policy and Planning Opportunities of Self-Driving Vehicles
The "future" of self-driving vehicles is quickly becoming reality. As these technologies make their way into the vehicles that get us from point A to point B, they are beginning to disrupt not only the way we think about transportation, but the way we relate to the built environment and organize the way we live. Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, discusses these issues in a video from Civios, an open source project hosted by the Humphrey School.
Watch the video: Policy and Planning Opportunities of Self-Driving Vehicles (5:41)
- Self-Driving Vehicles Task Force Report and Matrix of Users (PDF), 2017
- Self-Driving Vehicles: Current Status of Autonomous Vehicle Development and Minnesota Policy Implications, Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology, 2015
- Self-driving cars: As revolutionary in the 21st century for public health as vaccines were in the 20th, University of Minnesota School of Public Health Ignite! Symposium video, Feb. 2016
- Options for Automated Speed Enforcement Pilot Projects in Minnesota Work and School Zones, May 2014, Report no. CTS 14-06
- Understanding the Economic Effects of Flexibility through Three Employer Case Studies, February 2013, Report no. MnDOT 2013-07
- Investigating Deployment Potential for Automated Speed Enforcement in Minnesota (2012)
- Minnesota Field Test of CrashHelp (2012)
- Identifying Issues Related to Deployment of Automated Speed Enforcement - FY12 TechPlan (2011)
- ITS Data Needs: How Much Do We Really Need to Know? - FY11 TechPlan (2011)
- ITS and Locational Privacy: Suggestions for Peaceful Coexistance - FY10 TechPlan (2009)
- Viability of Personal Rapid Transit in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (2010)
- Viability and Benefits of Automated Rapid Transit for Minnesota (2010)
- Minnesota UPA Telework Component (2008)
- Privacy Issues of ITS (2005)
- Developing ITS to Serve Diverse Populations (2004)