The Centralina Council of Governments (COG), in partnership with NCDOT and the Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition, was pleased to co-facilitate a series of three Autonomous and Connected Vehicle (ACV) Workshops in the Greater Charlotte region in fall 2017 with transportation-focused consultants, Cambridge Systematics. This ACV technology—also referred to as self-driving, driverless, or robotic—is poised to disrupt the transportation industry and usher in a new paradigm for mobility and travel choices. These vehicles have the potential to increase safety, improve mobility, and reduce environmental impacts on a global scale.
Many vehicles on the market today already include some level of automation, such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, and parking assist, with more features expected in the next year or two. Although no one can predict exactly how quickly or deeply ACVs will alter mobility, the ripple effects will be felt across the transportation sector, affecting change through policy, long-range planning, traffic forecasting/demand modeling, traffic operations, and fleet management.
A widespread deployment of ACV technology is anticipated to provide numerous additional benefits beyond safety. This technology will enable innovative mobility deployments such as cooperative cruise control and vehicle platooning, increasing roadway throughput and reducing congestion. In addition, these vehicles might be able to provide new mobility options to millions more Americans who might not have the ability to drive, thereby increasing their quality of life and ability to be more active and live a better lifestyle. Today, there are 49 million Americans over age 65 and 53 million people with some form of disability that could be well‐served by on‐demand ACV services.
Centralina staff had recently led the successful development of the region’s first Greater Charlotte Regional Freight Mobility Plan (which included an intelligent transportation system) and were poised to go deeper in drawing together officials across various transportation disciplines and agencies to discuss the knowledge, collaboration, and ultimately actions needed to begin preparing for ACV change.
The workshops were designed to be replicable and a model for other ACV workshops. Flowing from them and the subsequent wrap-up discussion, the group resolved to keep the momentum going around this topic, with the idea of continued convening of ACV stakeholders being key to achieving this. Therefore, Centralina will be working over the coming weeks to develop an ACV Task Force. This group’s initial job will be to clarify and formalize its charge based on what was heard through this series, time availability among those able to be involved, and resources that can be accessed over the long term.
Along with the development of an ACV Task Force, Centralina also expects to debut an ACV Roadmap for the region in January 2018. Finally, the ACV website will be continuously updated with upcoming events, interesting news articles, and other important ACV developments and resources impacting the region here.
Should you wish to learn more or be involved in this conversation, please contact Jason Wager at 704-348-2707 or [email protected].