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Observations from Autonomous Vehicle Testing in Phoenix, Noteworthy Ways Existing Political Practices and Commuting Behaviors Will Affect Planning for Self-Driving Vehicles

Montilla, Michael A. N.

Political and social contexts affecting the planning for self-driving vehicles are explored through a mixed-methods case study of autonomous vehicle testing in Phoenix, Arizona. This thesis addresses the following five research questions: What are the public perceptions of self-driving vehicles? How common are self-driving vehicles within testing areas? What role will private firms creating autonomous driving technologies have in the planning for these vehicles? What role will public agencies have in supporting and regulating the use of self-driving vehicles? And are concerns of induced sprawl associated with driverless vehicles justified? The results produced five main findings. First, autonomous vehicles are popular in the Phoenix metropolis. Second, they are quite common in testing areas. Third, the developers of self-driving technologies are a major planner for these vehicles. Fourth, public planning for self-driving vehicles in the United States will follow the existing divisions of responsibilities across the various levels of government. And fifth, that the convenience provided by self-driving vehicles could incite sprawl within a one-hour commuting limit. Overall, these results indicate that the planning for self-driving vehicles will occur through existing political practices, and in response to persistent commuting behaviors. The practical and research ramifications of these findings are discussed, along with the enduring role of the car in American society. While the socially beneficial promises of self-driving vehicles are huge, planners must remember that they are essentially automobiles with similar potentials for sprawl and other effects harmful to cities and urban communities as their traditional counterparts.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Hutson, Malo A.
Degree
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 15, 2019
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