Incorporating Autonomous Vehicles in the Traditional Four-Step Model

Automated vehicles (AVs) are a concrete possibility in the near future. As AVs may shift transportation paradigms, transportation agencies are eager to update their models to consider them in planning. In this context, the use of advanced models may be challenging, given the uncertainty in the use and deployment of AVs. In this paper, we present a general framework to extend the four-step model to include AVs, and test our extension on North Central Texas Council of Governments’ model. Our approach introduces a module for AV ownership and exogenous parameters into an existing four-step model to account for changes in travel decisions for AV owners, and for the impacts of AVs on network performance. The latter is modeled using the concept of passenger-car-equivalent to avoid imposing network-wide assumptions on AVs’ capacity consumption. We analyze five scenarios, representing different assumptions on the impacts of AVs, and include references to inform the selection of modeling parameters. We compute aggregate metrics that suggest that the model is sensitive to the proposed parameters, with the passenger-car-equivalent assumptions having the largest impact on model outcomes. Results suggest that, even when we assume that AVs can better use network capacity and that trip-making rates do not drastically increase, AVs may lead to an increase of about 2.8% in vehicle-hours traveled while also improving speeds by about 1.8%. If AVs introduce additional friction on traffic, the system performance may deteriorate. The analyses presented here suggest that existing modeling tools may be adjusted to support analyses of a future with AVs.


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  • Accession Number: 01742441
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jun 15 2020 3:05PM