Document Type

Capstone Project

Publication Date



autonomous vehicles planning self driving transportation public policy


Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are expected to arrive on public roads in the mid-term future, but will vary in their uses and level of self-driving capabilities. On the heels of the rise of shared mobility services from transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft, the combination of these technologies has generated the anticipation of a diminishing need for private car ownership. The promises of when AVs will arrive has been somewhat tempered in recent years, allowing the public and stakeholders valuable time to more adequately plan for their arrival. A yet undetermined outcome is the influence these new technologies will have on traveler behavior, which impacts nearly every aspect of transportation planning. This report highlights two divergent paths that the autonomous future is likely to usher in: One scenario is marked by a new mobility ecosystem which enables people and things to move faster, cleaner, cheaper, and safer than today. The other possibility is that the autonomous future is marked by a decrease in overall safety, increased congestion, abandonment of public transport systems, lack of privacy, and transportation deserts. Which of these futures comes to fruition is dependent on various competing forces from public entities and the private sector. This discussion aims to provide a ten-thousand-foot view of the myriad of changes that self-driving vehicles are likely to generate. This report was written for multiple purposes, both for the formal needs of the McLean County Regional Planning Commission (MCRPC), as well as a brief introduction for Bloomington-Normal-McLean County stakeholders to start planning for the autonomous future. The author hopes it will be utilized as a resource for ongoing intergovernmental discussion of smart cities, intelligent transportation systems, and public technology currently being conducted by MCRPC and local governments. In addition, it will serve as a supplement to the 2045 Long Range Metropolitan Transportation Plan for the Bloomington-Normal urbanized area.