WASHINGTON — U.S. cities are trying to prepare for deployment of autonomous vehicles (AVs) on their streets, but they face a lot of uncertainties, according to a transportation expert at the University of Virginia.
"The type of investment they need to make may be beyond their means and even inappropriate for them to make," said Donna Chen, an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Systems & Environment at the University of Virginia.
"Those decisions may have to be made on the federal or state level."
Nevertheless, "cities can have a lot of influence on how AVs are deployed on their streets," she said.
Ms. Chen is scheduled to be in Washington April 3 as a panelist on the topic, "Cities in the Driver's Seat for AV Deployment," at Mobility Talks International, held in conjunction with the 2019 Washington Auto Show.
Ms. Chen is a faculty affiliate of the cyber physical systems research Link Lab and Center for Transportation Studies, according to the university website.
Despite the importance of federal and state policies on AVs, many things can be done on the local level to expedite their acceptance, according to Ms. Chen.
Among the most important are those having to do with land-use requirements for development and the related requirements for parking space, she said.
"There's a lot of reason to think that with AVs, we may see a significant decrease in the demand for parking," Ms. Chen said. "Otherwise, in 10 or 15 years, space allotted for parking might turn out to be wasted space."
Many metropolitan areas in the U.S. have planning organizations that are studying the implications of integrating AVs into urban areas, according to Ms. Chen. While she said there are too many to list in total, she mentioned Seattle, Atlanta and cities in California's San Francisco Bay Area as being proactive in considering how AVs will affect travel and tax infrastructure in their areas.