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Societal Level Impacts of Connected and Automated Vehicles

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Novel policy support tool assesses the impact of self-driving cars on society

Connected and automated vehicles will considerably impact mobility, safety, the environment and society as a whole. EU-funded researchers developed an evaluation framework to forecast these impacts.

Transport and Mobility icon Transport and Mobility
Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

Connected and automated vehicles are likely to be introduced in increased numbers over the next decade. This advent of automation can bring large unknown impacts on cities and authorities. How will this advanced technology affect society? How will automated vehicles contribute to increased safety and environmental protection as well as to reduced traffic congestion? Which mobility technologies will contribute most to value creation? To answer these questions, the EU-funded Levitate project developed an open-access web-based policy support tool to assess the societal impacts of automated vehicles. “With advanced mobility systems not yet in widespread use, there is a lack of data and knowledge in the field. Some of the technologies and mobility concepts may be entirely disruptive, requiring a mind shift. Therefore, the impacts cannot be determined from historic patterns,” notes project coordinator Andrew Morris. “Furthermore, estimates of the future impacts of cooperative, connected and automated mobility (CCAM) may be based on forecasting approaches, but there is still no agreement over the methodologies that will be used.”

Tool operation and components

Levitate’s novel policy support tool is a hands-on, user-friendly tool enabling policymakers to manage the smooth introduction of connected and automated vehicles, maximise CCAM benefits and use the technology to achieve societal objectives. The tool comprises a knowledge module (static component) and an estimator module (dynamic component). The knowledge module is a static repository offering documentation for all aspects of the policy support tool and results from various intervention case studies and relevant literature from CCAM guidelines. The estimator module can be used to predict societal impacts based on certain information and allows conducting comparative analyses. It provides quantified output on the expected impact from CCAM and related policies and can also be used for backcasting societal impacts by taking future estimates as bases for present policy selection. Furthermore, it provides cost-benefit analyses for monetising costs and benefits of CCAM interventions.

Potential impact

“The newly developed tool and project outcomes will serve as a valuable new resource for municipalities, regional authorities and national governments that wish to prepare for the prevalence of connected and automated vehicles and identify the most effective measures to achieve wider societal objectives. These authorities will need a new evidence-based approach to policymaking,” explains Morris. “Sustainable urban mobility plans typically have a time horizon of 15 years, which is directly comparable to the likely timescales for the introduction of CCAM technologies and services. Levitate outcomes and the new interactive policy support tool will assist cities when developing long-term strategies, ensuring that scenario planning incorporates the most appropriate mix of targets and is based on the best knowledge of CCAM interventions,” adds Morris. The project team has already started promoting the policy support tool to cities that are members of the stakeholder reference group. After project completion, they will share the results with a larger number of cities and industry stakeholders to help them assess the impact of automated mobility and design the transport infrastructure and regulations.


Levitate, policy support tool, CCAM, connected and automated vehicles, cities, societal impacts, connected and automated mobility

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