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NDSU Researcher Helps Develop Model to Assess Land-use Impacts of Autonomous Vehicles

Posted: Nov 16, 2020

An NDSU researcher has helped develop a simplified computer modeling technique to help forecast the effects of autonomous vehicles on land use.

Raj Bridgelall, assistant professor of transportation and logistics, says changes in land use and travel habits, driven by the efficiency, safety and convenience of autonomous vehicles could dramatically increase the demand for autonomous vehicles for shopping, entertainment and dining in urban areas.

"Forecasting the Effects of Autonomous Vehicles on Land Use" was published in the international journal, Technological Forecasting and Social Change. Bridgelall is a researcher with the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at NDSU, and co-author Edward Stubbing is a senior transportation planner for rail and transit with AECOM, an international transportation infrastructure consulting firm.

Although the rise of e-commerce could eliminate some shopping trips, many retailers and dining establishments are adding an online alternative or experiential component to their offerings, the researchers said. At the same time, autonomous vehicles may make travel more convenient for some or open travel to people who previously could not make trips to retail centers.

The model developed by the researchers is a simpler alternative to more complex data-driven models and could be used to provide preliminary insight into travel demand sensitivity to autonomous vehicles and related factors, Bridgelall said. The model will be useful for urban planners, transportation planners, the commercial real estate industry, and the retail and service industries and could be used to evaluate public policy options.

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