Research Team: Giovanni Circella (lead), Miguel Jaller, Ran Sun, Xiaodong Qian, and Farzad Alemi
UC Campus(es): UC Davis
Problem Statement: The three revolutions in transportation—shared mobility, electrification and vehicle automation—will fundamentally change transportation around the world. Key challenges facing government and industry decision makers include changing patterns in vehicle ownership and use, traffic congestion, air pollution, energy use, and equity gaps.
Project Description: This study helps understand how the anticipated emergence of autonomous vehicles will affect various aspects of society and transportation, including travel demand, vehicle miles traveled, energy consumption, and emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. The study begins with a literature review on connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology for light-duty vehicles, the factors likely to affect CAV adoption, expected impacts of CAVs, and approaches to modeling these impacts. The study then uses a set of modifications in the California Statewide Travel Demand Model (CSTDM) to simulate the following scenarios for the deployment of passenger light-duty CAVs in California by 2050: (0) Baseline (no automation); (1) Private CAV; (2) Private CAV + Pricing; (3) Private CAV + Zero emission vehicles (ZEV); (4) Shared CAV; (5) Shared CAV + Pricing; (6) Shared CAV + ZEV. The modified CSTDM is used to forecast travel demand and mode share for each scenario, and this output is used in combination with the emission factors from the EMission FACtor model (EMFAC) and Vision model to calculate energy consumption and criteria pollutant emissions. The modeling results indicate that the mode shares of public transit and in-state air travel will likely sharply decrease, while total vehicle miles traveled and emissions will likely increase, due to the relative convenience of CAVs. The study also reveals limitations in models like the CSTDM that primarily use sociodemographic factors and job/residence location as inputs for the simulation of activity participation and tour patterns, without accounting for some of the disruptive effects of CAVs. The study results also show that total vehicle miles traveled and vehicle hours traveled could be substantially impacted by a modification in future auto travel costs. This means that the eventual implementation of pricing strategies and congestion pricing policies, together with policies that support the deployment of shared and electric CAVs, could help curb tailpipe pollutant emissions in future scenarios, though they may not be able to completely offset the increases in travel demand and road congestion that might result from CAV deployment. Such policies should be considered to counteract and mitigate some of the undesirable impacts of CAVs on society and on the environment.