Implications of automated vehicles for street design and planning: Espoo case

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Insinööritieteiden korkeakoulu | Master's thesis
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Master's Programme in Spatial Planning and Transportation Engineering (SPT)
64 + 9
Automated Vehicles (AVs), in their foundational stage, are gradually emerging into Espoo’s road network. During the transition phase, AVs are expected to introduce several challenges and requirements for road operators in design and maintenance of physical infrastructure. This has pushed cities to investigate the potential changes needed to the way their road networks are operated and managed, to consistently support and optimize the outcomes from the introduction of AVs. The thesis uses a combination of qualitative methods, including map-based survey, road test drives, expert discussions and critical testing scenarios to identify and assess several street design elements in Espoo. The study assesses the automation ability of the Tesla Autopilot in the road network by experimenting several driving scenarios and weather conditions i.e. night and rain. The study also briefly tests other steering assist systems as a way to assess and compare capabilities of other steering assist systems within similar road environments. Today, the design and quality of road markings are the key features influencing the operation of machine vision based automated systems. Therefore, discussions regarding street design implications are mainly related to the design of longitudinal markings. In this study, several design elements had been identified and studied, including edge marking, lane split and merge marking, bus stop and side parking marking. Based on the current technological trends in vehicle automation, road operators are advised to consider several physical infrastructure and maintenance elements, including primarily the machine readability of line markings. The consistency in design, implementation and maintenance of road markings are seen to have the most benefit in facilitating the deployment of AVs today. However, it was observed that some road marking elements were more critical than others, and therefore, it is suggested that they have higher maintenance and design priority. While the study assesses street design elements that are seen significant for the operation of steering assist systems today, operators are advised to consider planning frameworks to plan for the introduction of AVs, in order to avoid making changes that may hinder their operation in the future. However, it is important to consider other aspects of road operation and management when considering any new innovative changes in street design in the future.
Roncoli, Claudio
Thesis advisor
Mladenovic, Milos
Nyberg, Johanna
street design, road operation, automated vehicles, AV
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