As of October 1, 2016, the SWUTC concluded its 28 years of operation and is no longer an active center of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The archived SWUTC website remains available here.


SWUTC Research Project Description

Policy Implications of Emerging Vehicle and Infrastructure Technology

University: University of Texas at Austin

Principal Investigator:
C. Michael Walton
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
(512) 471-4636

Project Monitor:
Wade Odell
Research & Technology Implementation Office
Texas Department of Transportation
Austin, TX 78701

Funding Source: USDOT and State of Texas General Revenue Funds

Total Project Cost: $75,900

Project Number: 600451-00087

Date Started: 1/1/13

Estimated Completion Date: 12/31/13

Project Summary

Project Abstract:
This project will assess policy implications of emerging vehicle and infrastructure technologies, namely electric and autonomous vehicles and accompanying infrastructure with electricity and data sharing provision. The status of emerging technologies will be assessed along with market reception and cost feasibility, and current political and institutional barriers that may slow their adoption, will be identified. Research on new policies and institutional changes that are being implemented outside of Texas will be completed, and analyses of policy implications and recommendations will be provided.

Project Objectives:
This study aims to meet the following objectives.

  • Identify emerging technologies and provide status of emerging technologies in the context of their implications to public transportation agencies
  • Identify policy and institutional barriers
  • Provide recommendations for policy and institutional changes and outlook on technology convergence with current system

Task Descriptions:

1. Literature Review
Findings from pilot studies, draft legislation from other states, academic studies, and industry studies will be synthesized and will inform subsequent research tasks and aid in the establishment of a theoretical framework for proceeding research.

2. Identify Emerging Technologies and Report on Status and Feasibility for Mainstream Adoption
Emerging vehicle and infrastructure technologies, which are thought be feasible and realistic in terms of market reception and cost, will be identified and a report on their status of technological development and market reception will be completed.  Industry efforts toward market readiness will be included.

3. Identify Policy and Institutional Barriers
Policy and institutional barriers that are believed to slow the adoption of new technologies or prevent full their benefits form being realized will be identified. Industry attitudes and sentiments regarding public agency readiness will be included.

4. Summarize Policy and Institutional Changes in Other States and Federal Agencies
New policies that have been created in states other than Texas will be reported, and efforts at the Federal level that aim to aid the convergence of new transportation technology will be included. Implications of Federal policy will be discussed in terms of their impacts for Texas transportation policy makers.

5. Recommend Policy and Institutional Changes to Aid Technology Convergence
Recommendations for policy and institutional changes that will aid in the convergence of emerging vehicle and infrastructure technologies will be made.

6. Final Report
A final report with findings from all prior tasks will be completed.

Implementation of Research Outcomes:
This research considered a broad range of emerging transportation technologies that have potential for enhancing travel on and operations of the Texas transportation system. The final report provides an overview of technology classifications and assesses the policy implications of emerging vehicle and infrastructure technology classifications—namely, connected, autonomous, and electric vehicle technologies—as well as cloud computing and crowdsourcing in the context of transportation systems and services. The researchers assessed these technologies in terms of their ability to further state and national transportation goals. Also assessed were barriers to adoption and promotion at various development stages. Research is presented on new policies and institutional changes that are being implemented outside of Texas. Finally, policy implications for Texas are discussed.

Products produced by this research:

Presentation:  Strategic Assessment on Emerging Innovative Transportation Technologies for Future Transportation in Texas, Peter Jin, Dan Fagnant, Andrea Hall, and C. Michael Walton, presented at the meeting of ITS World Congress in Detroit, MI, September 16, 2014.

Impacts/Benefits of Implementation:
This research is one of the first studies that has taken a comprehensive analysis of new and emerging transportation technologies and their combined and individual ability to further state and national transportation goals and analysis of barriers to their adoption and promotion.  Findings of this research will serve to improve public knowledge and attitudes, as well as change behavior, practices, decision-making and/or policies towards emerging transportation technologies.  Texas Department of Transportation, which was a partner in this research, has received a report of the project results.

Web Links:
Final Technical Report