Scenarios and Justification for Automated Vehicle Demonstration in Rural Minnesota
Frank Douma, Director, SLPP, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
The potential benefits of automated vehicles (AV's) have been discussed at length: reduced need for parking, increased opportunity for vehicle sharing, increased efficiency in use of vehicles, etc. However, most of those benefits will occur in relatively densely populated urban areas. Two of the most significant benefits, however--safety and mobility for those who cannot drive--can accrue nearly anywhere. Given that fatalities and serious injuries disproportionately occur in rural areas, and considering that these areas also have a disproportionate number of senior citizens and people with disabilities, finding a model for developing and deploying these technologies in small towns and rural areas is as important as similar efforts in urban areas. This research aims to develop such a model by identifying the questions that must be addressed, identifying data and other resources that will inform answers to those questions, and suggesting how such a model might be demonstrated. While the model focuses on longer term benefits that can accrue from deployment of fully self-driving (aka "Level 5") technology, the proposed demonstration recognizes that current AV technologies are not mature and have limits that show the potential of the technology without creating additional risk.