The Future of Autonomous Vehicles: Lessons from the Literature on Technology Adoption

Introduction and adoption of autonomous vehicles (AVs) will likely reshape the transportation system and many economic activities. The economic literature on technology adoption can provide lessons on the diffusion of AVs as well as the social and economic impacts. The authors rely on the threshold model of diffusion, where heterogeneous agents make decisions to pursue their self-interests and whose decisions change over time with new technologies and knowledge. They utilize the many applications of the threshold model and point to case studies of other technologies to gain information and make predictions about the future of AVs. Most notably, the authors find that private ownership of AVs will prevail after a transition period, as was the case in other technologies like computers, tractors, and cars. With technological progress, the cost of privately owning AVs will decline and they will be customized to meet individual tastes. In addition, there will be an increase in vehicle miles traveled per capita, may be more vehicles on the road, and an expansion of the transportation user-base to include those currently facing limited mobility. Furthermore, differentiation of vehicles will increase as driving time becomes freed for other activities. These trends may lead to increased GHG emissions and expansion of the transportation sector. Finally, the technology will evolve and may result in complementary innovations to address, including the ‘last 10 feet’ problem.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Figures; References;
  • Pagination: 17p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01681508
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: CA17-2796-3
  • Contract Numbers: 65A0529
  • Created Date: Jul 17 2018 3:29PM