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19 This section presents key findings from this research on the evolution of interest in LSAVs in the United States and lessons learned from the initial planning and implementation of these services. Although the primary audience for this research is public transportation agencies, the findings will be useful to other public and private entities exploring the introduction of LSAV services. The key findings address â¢ Current interest in LSAVs globally and in the United States, â¢ Objectives for planning and implementing LSAV services, â¢ Governance and funding for LSAV services, â¢ Evolution of LSAVs and services, and â¢ Accessibility concerns with LSAVs. 4.1 Current Interest in LSAVs Globally and in the United States Current interest in LSAVs globally and in the United States continues to expand along with the start up of LSAV services. To date, most LSAV service planning, development, testing, and initiation has been by public and private entities, rather than public transportation agencies. In most cases to date, LSAV services, although publicly available, serve targeted trip purposes. In some cases, planned LSAV services will connect to existing public transportation, extending its reach. Over the past year, interest has begun to translate into formal planning and imple- mentation of public transportation LSAV services. LSAV services are now being designed as an integral part of public transportation. More specifically, this research revealed an evolution in transportation planning to incorporate LSAVs: â¢ More than 260 international LSAV demonstrations and pilots were recorded by August 2018; around that time, the United States saw a move from demonstrations to pilots or longer-term deployments. â¢ As of July 2018, 11 trials or deployments of LSAVs were active in the United States, with three larger-scale pilots completed. As of August 2019, the research team identified seven completed pilots, 45 in planning, and 18 operational. This formed the base list for the lesson learned and mini case studies. In addition, through October 2020, more than 300 projects in the United States are known to be in some stage of the pipeline. Some have not begun formal planning (although a potential funder has been identified) or are subject to confidentiality or nondisclosure agreements. C H A P T E R 4 Findings
20 Low-Speed Automated Vehicles (LSAVs) in Public Transportation â¢ Although most did not specifically refer to LSAVs, 75 percent of applications to the U.S. DOT Smart Cities Challenge grant competition referenced plans to test, demonstrate, or pilot the use of automated vehicles. Many flagged automated shuttles as the preferred vehicle. During 2019, interest in LSAV services began to translate into formal planning and implementa- tion of public transportation LSAV projects, including the collaboration between the Utah Transit Agency and the Utah Department of Transportation and a Houston Metro project in Texas. 4.2 Objectives for Planning and Implementing LSAV Services Objectives for LSAV service vary depending on whether a project is currently being planned or implemented or is part of a longer-term planning initiative. Long-range plans identify improved mobility as a key objective for LSAV services. Nevertheless, objectives for the LSAV projects identified in Chapter 3 show that MPOs, cities, and public transit agencies have designed LSAV projects to introduce and understand automated technologies and pursue increased economic development. Many are seeking to be among the first to implement driverless transportation services to the public. Whereas public transportation agencies have historically introduced new transportation services to expand capacity, serve new markets, or improve service quality, this does not appear to be the case with recent LSAV pilot projects. During interviews conducted for this research, no city or transit agency reported completing a market analysis of potential ridership when planning their LSAV service. By and large, LSAV services were not designed with typical ridership or market assessment objectives in mind. Innovation was reported as a priority by most interviewees. Examples of objectives for LSAV projects that have been completed or are underway are presented below, highlighting the importance of innovation and economic development: â¢ The City of Arlington, Texas, designed its initial project to test and showcase LSAV technology. â¢ The City of Las Vegas and the Regional Transportation Commission focused on validating connected technology used in conjunction with AVs. Meanwhile, the private sector funder, American Automobile Association (AAA), focused on consumer acceptance. â¢ Houston METROâs deployment at Texas Southern University focused on understanding LSAV technology. â¢ The Jacksonville Transportation Authority initially sought to demonstrate proof of concept. By contrast, long-term plans for LSAVs have objectives with a greater emphasis on local and regional mobility and improved public transportation. Cities across the United States, including Arlington, Texas; Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington, are developing inno- vative mobility plans, transit development plans, and transportation district plans. Smart Cities initiatives in Columbus, Ohio; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Denver, Colorado, include LSAV projects. Additional examples of these plans include the following: â¢ A Bloomington, Indiana, operational study (or route optimization study) examined how to accommodate or take advantage of emerging technologies such as microtransit, transporta- tion network companies, and LSAV shuttles. â¢ Hawaiiâs A2CES (Accessible, Automated, Connected, Electric, and Shared) policy focuses on shared use, connectivity to transit, and electrification across modes. â¢ Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportationâs assessment of station areas and proposal for shared mobility hubs embeds LSAV planning in transit agency programmatic, design, and construction assessments. â¢ North Central Texas Council of Governments and Jacksonville MPO LRTPs approved projects for LSAVs in public transportation.
Findings 21 Two cities in the United States are now developing methods to analyze consumer preferences, and therefore market potential, for LSAV services: â¢ In Chicago, MITâs JTL/Transit Lab researched stated versus revealed preferences for LSAV service that connects to commuter rail or provides door-to-door service. â¢ In San Antonio, Poco Labs conducted market surveys and Delphi interviews to assess the market for LSAV shuttles. 4.3 Governance and Funding for LSAV Services LSAV service governance and funding throughout the United States are through publicâprivate collaborations. States, cities, regional planning organizations, and public transit agencies are working with real estate developers, hospitals, private employers, major insurance companies, the hospitality industry (e.g., convention centers, hotels, and restaurants), the energy sector (primarily electrical utilities), and other private entities to manage, oversee, and fund LSAV services. Many initiatives include both public and private research institutions hosting or evalu- ating LSAV services. Since early pilots at Fort Bragg and the Smart Cities Challenge of 2016, few sustained LSAV projects or pilots in the United States have been led directly by a public transportation entity. Publicâprivate collaborations for the management, oversight, and funding of LSAVs include the following specific examples: â¢ In Columbus, the Linden Community AV Shuttles and Smart Circuit LSAV services are funded by the Ohio DOT initiative DriveOhio and the City of Columbus. Smart Columbus, a publicâprivate partnership, manages the two projects. â¢ The Contra Costa Transportation Authority partnered with Bishop Ranch, GoMentum Station, Stantec, Bestmile, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), First Transit, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in one of the early pilots. â¢ In Denver, the Regional Transportation District partnered with Panasonic Smart City and tapped its bus service provider, Transdev, as its LSAV operator. â¢ Hawaiiâs comprehensive approach to readiness for automated vehicles engaged varied private investors and landowners; land-use and transportation planners; and state, regional, and local planning and operational units. â¢ In Las Vegas, Nevada, the Cityâs chief engineer served as a project manager for LSAV service funded by AAA. â¢ In Rhode Island and Utah, the respective DOTs and transit agencies are working together on LSAV pilots. 4.4 Evolution of LSAVs and Services LSAV models and services are evolving as they are tested. Existing vehicles are being modified, new vehicle models introduced, and new services considered and planned. Technological LSAV capabilities and use cases related to public transportation are intertwined. The literature review and case studies conducted in this research represent a snapshot in time, as technology and use cases evolve and more LSAVs move from prototype to production. LSAV technology continues to change across vehicle classifications, including small NEVs, larger purpose-built models, and low- and medium-speed vehicles compliant with the FMVSS. These new models and types are reflected in recent federal and state grant applications, including U.S. DOT Automated Driving demonstration grants. Most new LSAV models are not yet opera- tional in public service or on public roadways.
22 Low-Speed Automated Vehicles (LSAVs) in Public Transportation Characteristics of updated vehicles include â¢ Larger and smaller passenger capacities, including full-size electric buses and pod cars; â¢ Higher operating speeds; â¢ Development of low- and medium-speed FMVSS-compliant vehicles; â¢ Installation of wheelchair securement and ramps in vehicles not traditionally used in public transportation; and â¢ Improved artificial intelligence and vehicle design. Early adopters of LSAVs and other automated vehicle technologies are finding that the appro- priateness of a particular vehicle or use case may depend on the specific technology and the operating environment. Some public agencies are addressing this by evaluating vendors over a phased program and by pilot testing across different operating environments. Other project sponsors have opted to plan for more permanent deployments of LSAVs as the technology matures. Arlington, Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Tampa, Florida (in partnership with the Jacksonville Transit Authority) haveâor plan to conductâprojects in phases using different technologies over an extended time period. Other approaches include the following: â¢ Honoluluâs transportation community is pursuing a hybrid approach through a combination of private and public planning, including assessment of a low-speed network, accommodation of emerging technologies in the design of new rail system stations, and development of projects with varied use cases such as accessible automated mobility on demand, first/last mile connec- tions, and campus-based applications. â¢ In Mountain View, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is planning a connector service and first/last mile application on dedicated lanes and an elevated guideway. Similarly, Youngstown, Ohioâs BUILD grant-funded program includes a path for LSAV shuttle design. â¢ Utah DOTâs collaboration with the Utah Transit Authority looks to a series of short deployments across eight to 10 ODDs, including those that are on road, off road, and for different purposes. In the course of the research interviews, project sponsors for completed LSAV projects noted some performance limitations with vehicles. These interviewees commented that, on the basis of their experience, LSAVs had the following shortcomings: â¢ Limited speed ranges (9 to 11 mph) in some vehicles. â¢ Limitations in making unprotected left-hand turns (addressed by vehicle technology, a manual override, or both). â¢ Weather impacts on battery life (extreme heat/cold), air conditioning, operations in automated mode (heavy rain), and performance of drive-by-wire electromechanical systems (snow). â¢ Interference with autonomous mode by light debris or lack of hard edges. â¢ Oversensitivity to objects triggering abrupt stops. 4.5 Accessibility Concerns with LSAVs FTA establishes many requirements for those receiving federal funds, including financial reporting, compliance with disadvantaged business enterprise reporting, Buy America provisions, life cycle maintenance, and more. Importantly, FTA regulations for public and private transpor- tation services address the accessibility of vehicles and facilities in compliance with the ADA.6 This research focuses on the availability of accessible LSAVs, in particular wheelchair-accessible vehicles and accessible design for adults with cognitive and communication disabilities. 6 49 CFR 37, Transportation Services for Individuals with Disabilities.
Findings 23 With the emergence of highly automated vehicles deployed in public transit, FTA has provided guidance for automated buses that also applies to buses used as shuttles.7 Also, the U.S. Department of Justice resolved an ADA compliance review with the University of Michigan and its Mcity LSAV shuttle in 2019. The resulting settlement stipulates that the ADA requires all new vehicles operating on a fixed route to be accessible, and autonomous vehicles, pilot programs, or research programs are no exception. The Justice Department and University of Michigan agreement provides that any future highly automated vehicles that the university purchases or leases for the Mcity Driverless Shuttle program, or any other fixed-route transportation system, must be equipped with accessible features. Until all Mcity vehicles are accessible, the university must provide equivalent services to individuals with disabilities. To date, no LSAV models have been designed or retrofitted to include all features for customers who use wheelchairs, such as wheelchair ramps, securement devices, and rails. Over time, some LSAV manufacturers have begun to include ramps and wheelchair secure- ment; others have added humanâmachine interfaces (HMIs) to allow customers with cognitive, visual, and auditory disabilities to communicate with the vehicle regarding destinations and other travel information. However, the full complement of accessibility-related features needed to serve customers with disabilities does not currently exist for LSAVs. Some adopters of LSAV technology have prioritized vehicles designed to accommodate persons with limited mobility, and at least one vendor featured universal design and an HMI to help those with communications disabilities. Specific efforts in this direction have included the following: â¢ The City of Arlington, Texas, required a vehicle with a ramp for its first deployment. â¢ Fort Bragg ARIBO (Applied Robotics for Installations and Base Operations) included evalua- tion of automated wheelchair access and securement. â¢ Las Vegas, Nevada, procured a Navya with an electric wheelchair ramp. â¢ Local Motors has designed the Accessible Olli but does not yet produce it. Some communities initiating LSAVs and some vehicle vendors have engaged with stake- holders to assess how best to ensure that LSAVs are accessible: â¢ Jacksonville Transit Authority included wheelchair users in their assessment of accessibility and LSAVs on its fixed guideway. â¢ Local Motors designed the Accessible Olli prototype relying on an HMI and other tools to make its vehicle more accessible than ADA requirements. â¢ May Mobility partnered with a Michigan state disability advisory group to define needs and to develop a retrofit for its Polaris GEM chassis that accommodates a ramp. Further, in a deployment of five vehicles planned for March 2021 in Arlington, Texas, one with wheelchair accessibility will be available at all times the fleet is in service. 7 Federal Transit Administration, âFrequently Asked Questions: Transit Bus Automation Policy,â July 11, 2019, https://www. transit.dot.gov/sites/fta.dot.gov/files/docs/research-innovation/134506/transit-bus-automation-faqs_0.pdf.