International Transport Forum Discussion Papers

ITF Discussion Papers make economic research, commissioned or carried out in-house at the International Transport Forum, available to researchers and practitioners. They describe preliminary results or research in progress by the author(s) and are published to stimulate discussion on a broad range of issues on which the ITF works.

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Automation of the Driving Task

Some possible consequences and governance challenges

The possible consequences of the advent of fully automated vehicles (AVs) for personal transport are assessed. A shared-user model is considered preferable to an owner-user model; public-sector intervention is considered necessary to secure the successful integration of AVs with mass transit. Interurban expressways are found to offer a better opportunity than urban roads of capturing the vehicles' potential traffic and safety benefits. AVs' performance in a mixed-fleet scenario is highly dependent on segregation from other road users, but segregation poses significant challenges.

The governance of a range of themes (such as demand management and security) is considered. In each case, challenges to achieving a socially desirable outcome are identified. Both laissez-faire and more interventionist styles of governance with respect to AVs present problems but laissez faire may carry greater risk. Decisions on governance should be based on meaningful dialogue with those who stand to be affected.


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