November 1, 2013


Autonomous Vehicles: Anticipating Impacts in a World of Increasingly Shared Mobility


Friday, 1:40 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.


1605 Tilia, Room 1103, West Village


Autonomous vehicles (AVs) represent a potentially disruptive and beneficial change to the way in which we travel.  This new technology will impact roadway safety and congestion, air quality and traveler choices.  We estimate the private benefits of each AV (to individual owners) to be on the order of $2,000 per year in the near term, rising to $3,000 eventually, thanks to crash savings, travel time reductions, fuel savings, and parking benefits.  When crash savings for others are included, net social benefits are estimated at over $6,000 per AV per year.

Nevertheless, many barriers to AV implementation and mass-market penetration exist. Initial costs will be too high for most buyers, and U.S. licensing and testing standards are being developed at the state level, rather than under a national framework, which may lead to inconsistencies across states.  Liability details remain undefined, security concerns linger, and, absent new privacy standards, a default lack of privacy for personal travel may become the norm.  Finally, many impacts, interactions with other components of the transportation system, and implementation details remain uncertain for this new and exciting technology.

This seminar also examines the design and results of an agent-based model for Shared Autonomous Vehicle (SAV) operations, including environmental impacts of a fleet of shared and self-driving vehicles. The model generates trips throughout a grid-based urban area, to mimic realistic travel patterns and departure times.  An initial model run estimates the SAV fleet size required to reasonably service all trips, over a 24-hour period.  Next, the model is run over 100 days, with driverless vehicles ferrying travelers from one destination to the next.  During each 5-minute interval, some unused SAVs relocate to shorten wait times for next-period travelers.

Model applications vary trip generation rates, trip distribution patterns, network congestion levels, service area size, vehicle relocation strategies, and fleet size.  Preliminary results indicate that each SAV can replace around eleven conventional vehicles, while adding up to 10% more travel distance than conventional trip-making, resulting in overall beneficial emissions impacts, once fleet-efficiency changes and embodied (versus in-use) emissions are assessed.

Biographical Sketch

E.P. Schoch Professor of Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Kockelman is a registered professional engineer and holds a PhD, MS, and BS in civil engineering, a Masters of City Planning, and a minor in economics from the University of California at Berkeley. She was named by MIT’s Technology Review Magazine as one of the world’s Top 100 Innovators under age 35 (2002), and has received the Regional Science Association International’s  Hewings Award (2006), ASCE’s Harland Bartholomew Award (2007), and ASCE’s Huber Research Prize in Transportation Engineering (2010).

Dr. Kockelman is primary and co-author of over 110 papers across a variety of subjects, all of which involve transportation-related data analysis.  Her primary research interests include the statistical modeling of urban systems (including models of travel behavior, trade, and location choice), energy and climate issues (vis-à-vis transport and land use decisions), the economic impacts of transport policy, and crash occurrence and consequences. Dr. Kockelman has supervised research projects for the NSF, EPA, NCHRP, Texas and Oregon DOTs, Southwest University Transportation Centers program, and North Central Texas Council of Governments.  She has chaired the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB’s) Travel Survey Methods committee, and serves or has served on TRB’s Statistical Methods, Economics, Land Development, and Traveler Behavior and Values committees. She is a member of the International Association of Travel Behavior Research, and currently serves on the editorial boards of eight journals, including Transportation Research Part B and the Journal of Regional Science. Dr. Kockelman’s papers (as pre-prints) and curriculum vitae can be found at

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