A Quantitative Investigation into the Impact of Partially Automated Vehicles on Vehicle Miles Travelled in California


This project investigated changes in travel behavior by owners of partially automated electric vehicles. Partial automation can control vehicle speed and steering using sensors that monitor the external environment. The researchers used review results from survey responses including 940 users of partial automation, of which 628 who have Tesla Autopilot and 312 with systems from other automakers. Autopilot users report using automation more than users of other partial automation systems. Autopilot has the largest impact on travel, notably 36% of Autopilot users reporting more longdistance travel. Respondents who are younger, have a lower household income, use automation in a greater variety of traffic, roads, and weather conditions, and those who have pro-technology attitudes and outdoor lifestyles are more likely to report doing more long-distance travel. The project used propensity score matching to investigate whether automation leads to any increase in respondents’ annual vehicle miles travelled. For simplicity, the researchers focused only on the impact of Tesla Autopilot and found that automation results in an average of 4,884 more miles being driven per year

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