Newsroom | Can You Bake a Cherry Transportation System?

MAG News

We know automated vehicles are coming. But understanding exactly how and when they will become part of our daily transportation experience still involves some educated guessing.

We know automated vehicles are coming. But understanding exactly how and when they will become part of our daily transportation experience still involves some educated guessing. That’s why a group of modeling experts from around the country came together at MAG. They wanted to share the best ways to take what we know—and what we don’t know—about automated vehicles into consideration when planning our transportation future.

Sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), MAG hosted the Automated Vehicle Modeling Peer Exchange in June. Participants included representatives at the local, state and federal levels from Arizona, California, Kansas, and Missouri. Topics focused on how planning agencies are setting up their computer models to predict how future traffic will behave when AV becomes more common.

“Think about it like a pie you want to bake. You think you know all of the ingredients you must use, but you don’t yet know the quantities or how the ingredients might interact with one another,” explains MAG Executive Director Eric Anderson.

Anderson says now imagine if you could use your computer to test different combinations of ingredients and see how each affects the taste and look of the pie. 

“What assumptions do you make? What changes make a big difference? How close can you get to predicting how the pie will turn out? That’s what modelers must do to plan for the future, using known traffic behavior and testing the impact of different future technologies.”

Representatives from peer metropolitan planning organizations updated the group on their agency’s application of models in the current long-range transportation planning process. The agencies conducted group discussions on managing risk and uncertainty in planning. They also shared how their agencies communicate modeling results. Other discussions focused on knowledge and information gaps currently encountered in automated vehicle and connected vehicle modeling.

The key discussions, conclusions and ideas were documented and will be disseminated by FHWA to other planning agencies around the nation.

Published July 29, 2019