Autonomous Driving Simulator Final Report; The Competing Place of Public Transportation and Autonomous Vehicles in Traffic Mitigation in the United States

Blackin, Julia, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Norton, Peter, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Furukawa, Tomonari, EN-Mech & Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia

Traffic poses a variety of chronic ailments to drivers such as time lost for productivity and leisure, increased spending and pollution due to fuel use, higher chances of collisions, and blocking emergency services (Rettallack, 2019). The combination of these issues cost the United States economy nearly $87 billion in 2018, according to the World Economic Forum (2019). Additionally, there were 117 motor vehicle deaths per day on average in 2022, which has not risen or fallen significantly over the past 30 years (NHTSA, 2022). Autonomous vehicle companies claim that in the future, their technology will reduce traffic congestion, decrease collision rates, and provide more mobility options for the elderly and disabled. Companies that produce autonomous vehicles (AVs) have all offered services in the United States. None of said companies have achieved full autonomy, so the term “autonomous” is a misnomer. AVs are also known as robotic cars, driverless vehicles, or self-driving cars, but for the purpose of simplicity this essay will use “autonomous vehicles” to refer to cars that have features that employ driver support and automated driving. Public transportation, specifically buses and subways, share a lot of the same benefits as those proposed by AVs, such as decreased traffic, decreased collisions, and mobility for the disabled and elderly. Despite public transportation systems existing in nearly every city in the US, AVs have caused a disruption in the mobility market in urban planning, labor, and infrastructure. The expected cost of a transition to an AV country including necessary infrastructure such as charging, maintenance, and storage facilities would cost $80 billion, while according to the American Society of Civil Engineers the U.S. has a backlog of $836 billion in projects that need funding. Meanwhile, transportation is overwhelmingly underfunded and many projects are in need of modernization and repairs. The competition over a shared market between public transportation and AVs in alleviating traffic congestion in the United States is examined under the context of car-dependency. Though AVs have a place in the ride-share market, their use should be limited while public transportation should be expanded. Additionally, the use of lower Level AV features can be utilized in the realm of public transportation.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
autonomous vehicles, traffic, driving simulator

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Technical Advisor: Tomonari Furukawa

STS Advisor: Peter Norton

Technical Team Members: Firstname Lastname, Firstname Lastname, Firstname Lastname, Firstname Lastname

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