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1 The automation of mobility is complex, unpredictable, and potentially transforma- tive. Public transit agencies and private mobility providers seek to understand how best to incorporate automated vehiclesâspecifically low-speed automated vehicles (LSAVs)â into public transportation service. Many public and private entities have experimented with LSAVs in a range of applications. At the same time, the manufacturers of LSAVs are expanding vehicle and service types. Vehicular automation is a dynamic topic in that technologies and policies may change rapidly. Public transit agencies wishing to explore LSAV services may consult with relevant federal, state, or local authorities on policy. This research was conducted under the direction of a panel with expertise in public transportation, mobility innovation, and research. Research Objectives and Approach The objectives of this research were to (1) provide public transit agencies and communi- ties with guidance about the deployment of LSAVs as a new public transportation service and a step toward automated mobility on demand, (2) present use cases for LSAVs that may evolve, and (3) provide a checklist for planning and implementing LSAVs. Through a literature review, interviews, and project assessments, this research developed practical guidance for public transit agencies on emerging LSAV technology, lessons learned from early implementations, and considerations for LSAV projects in public transportation. The report addresses â¢ LSAV service applications. Emerging vehicle types and service models and how to consider their use in varied operating environments. â¢ Guidance for developing LSAV projects. LSAV projects in public transportation, including planning, funding, implementation, and evaluation. LSAVs vary in speed, level of automation, size, and whether the vehicle and the service must comply with the ADA as amended (ADA 42 U.S. Code Â§12101 et seq.) For purposes of this study, âLSAVâ refers to vehicles that reach speeds between 15 and 35 mph, are highly automated (Level 4 of 5, as defined by SAE), and operate as a shared service. LSAV types and sizes, or âform factors,â are expanding with the emergence of smaller scooter-like vehicles and larger buses (along with the attendant federal regulations). Project research identified varied LSAV use cases currently being planned and imple- mented by public and private entities that do not provide public transportation, as well as S U M M A R Y Low-Speed Automated Vehicles (LSAVs) in Public Transportation
2 Low-Speed Automated Vehicles (LSAVs) in Public Transportation by public transit agencies. Two important attributes of these use cases are service models and trip purposes: â¢ Service models. The service models include fixed routes, circulators, shuttles, first/last mile feeder services, and paratransit and other on-demand mobility options. These ser- vice models may operate separately or be combined. â¢ Trip purposes. LSAV services for specific types of trips are being planned and piloted by organizations that are not public transportation providers. These trips include services for health care, employment, entertainment, recreation, retail, parking access, residential development, and senior social services. In the future, public transit agencies as well as other public and private providers may offer LSAV service to provide general mobility for any trip in the public right-of-way. The report explains the importance of the operational design domain (ODD) for LSAVs. An ODD comprises the operating conditions under which a given driving automation sys- tem or feature is specifically designed to function. Conditions may include speed, weather, topography, time-of-day restrictions, and the requisite presence or absence of certain traffic or roadway characteristics. This research identified vehicle speed; weather; and traffic, roadway characteristics, and roadway conditions as key ODD aspects for practitioners to evaluate when considering LSAV service: â¢ Vehicle speed. As the name âlow-speed automated vehiclesâ suggests, practitioners will need to account for posted speed and operational speed, as well as the speed of other vehicles in mixed traffic in the same right-of-way. â¢ Weather. Practitioners may find that heat, snow, and rain require mitigation or limit operations. â¢ Traffic, roadway characteristics, and roadway conditions. Depending on the design of a specific vehicle, LSAVs can travel in mixed traffic with a range of crossings (e.g., unprotected turns, controlled stops, and signalized intersections). Modifications to physical infrastructure or the addition of connected vehicle technology can mitigate the hazards these attributes present. On the basis of a review of procurement and grant applications, as well as stakeholder interviews, this research found that a rising number of communities in the United States are exploring how LSAVs can help them achieve their transportation, mobility, and economic development goals. LSAV projects have ranged from short pilots with simple use cases to multiphase deployment strategies, in which communities are using LSAVs as a key part of the transportation system. Further, communities are deploying LSAVs in a variety of operating environments and ODDs. This research examines U.S.-based LSAV projects that have been planned, implemented, or completed. The projects ranged between 2 and 15 monthsâ duration; no demonstrations of shorter duration were included. Project status is defined in one of three categories: â¢ Planning. Projects in active concept development, route planning, or approvals before their official launch, including projects in testing. â¢ Operational. Projects currently operating, which generally involves transporting passen- gers or fulfilling the goals of the program. â¢ Completed. Projects that have finished. Key Findings and Lessons Learned This research on the evolution of interest in LSAV services in the United States and les- sons learned from their initial planning and implementation informs findings and guidance for practitioners. Key findings address:
Summary 3 â¢ Current global and U.S. interest in LSAVs. Global and U.S. interest in LSAVs 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 other than public transportation agencies. In most cases, LSAV services, although publicly available, serve tightly targeted trip purposes. Evidence of continued interest and support for LSAV service expansion includes the following: â Vendors have secured on-road testing approvals for additional vehicles. â At least one public transit agency has identified ways in which LSAV service can support logistics, such as moving COVID-19 testing samples. â NHTSA has issued Nuro a temporary 2-year exemption from the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). This exemption is the first issued for any automated vehicle, including an LSAV (albeit for a vehicle designed for cargo instead of passengers). â¢ Objectives for planning and implementing LSAV services. Long-range transportation plans (LRTPs) have identified improved mobility as a key objective for LSAV services, yet the objectives for most metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), cities, and public transit agencies are to introduce and understand automated technologies and to pursue economic development. â¢ Management, oversight, and funding for LSAV services. LSAV service management, oversight, and funding throughout the United States are currently through various publicâ private collaborations. Since early pilots at Fort Bragg and the Smart Cities Challenge held in 2016, few sustained LSAV projects or pilots in the United States have been led directly by a public transit agency. â¢ Evolution of LSAVs and services. LSAV models and services are evolving as they are piloted. Existing vehicles are being modified, new vehicle models are being introduced, and new services are being considered and planned. Technological capabilities of LSAVs and use cases related to public transportation are intertwined. Although this research on LSAV technology and services represents a snapshot in time, it reveals that technology and use cases are evolving as LSAVs move from prototype to production. â¢ Accessibility and LSAVs. Though FTA has not issued guidance defining accessibility for LSAV models or services, it has issued an FAQ on transit bus automation.1 To date, no LSAV models have been designed or retrofitted to include all features for customers with disabilities, such as wheelchair ramps, securement devices, and rails. Some LSAV manufacturers have begun to include ramps and wheelchair securement; others have added humanâmachine interfaces (HMIs) to allow customers with cognitive, visual, and auditory disabilities to communicate with the vehicle. Federal and state governments have funded prototype accessible automated vehicles through both design challenges and assis- tive technology initiatives. Practitioner Guide This research confirmed that practitioners want guidance about planning and imple- menting LSAV service, as well as additional research on LSAVs. The research informed the checklists for key LSAV project stages in Chapter 5, the Prac- titioner Guide. The key stages are LSAV program foundations, feasibility, procurement, implementation, operations, monitoring and evaluation, and building for sustainability. Each checklist features examples or models of transportation planning, procurement, funding, safety, and operations approaches. Figure S.1 highlights the key elements. 1 FTA, âTransit Bus Automation Policy FAQs,â November 1, 2019, https://www.transit.dot.gov/research-innovation/transit- bus-automation-policy-faqs.
4 Low-Speed Automated Vehicles (LSAVs) in Public Transportation Future Research Future research in several areas could increase the transit industryâs capacity for planning for and managing LSAVs. Key outcomes of further research include â¢ Establishing a baseline of LSAV planning and implementation in transit and related public agencies, including cities, MPOs, and state departments of transportation. â¢ Developing performance requirements for LSAVs, related data tools, and training for safety operators. â¢ Creating an inventory of strategies to maximize accessibility through ADA standards, equity of access, and universal design, including assistive technologies. â¢ Establishing a resource center to support ongoing collaboration on best practices. â¢ Identifying and validating metrics and evaluation tools for LSAV services in public transportation. Figure S.1. Key elements of the Practitioner Guide.