Freedom, Trust, and Mobility: A Study in U.S. Autonomous Vehicle Regulatory Policy and Federalism

65 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2020

See all articles by Lucien Charland

Lucien Charland

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Roy Liu

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jeremy Strickland

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management

Date Written: April 2, 2019

Abstract

Over the next decade, autonomous vehicles (AVs) will become increasingly prevalent throughout the United States (U.S.), transforming the nation’s transportation landscape. However, there is no guarantee that the potential benefits offered by AVs will be fully realized or that AV providers will serve the public interest in addition to their bottom line. The Federal, State, and Local Governments in the U.S., for the most part, have not effectively prepared for the inevitable arrival of AVs. Therefore, when our team assessed the current AV regulatory environment, we identified under-regulation at the federal level, a mix of disconnected regulations at the state and municipal levels, and a set of diverse stakeholders across all levels of government who are uncertain of the path forward.

To produce the greatest impact, we chose to focus our analysis on the municipal-level governance for several reasons. First, municipalities have been the driving force for innovation and experimentation in AV testing and pilots. Second, the real thought leadership on AV regulation has occurred mainly at the municipal level, as federal and state regulations have provided the base upon which municipal regulations are layered. Third, municipal governments have faced the highest amount of uncertainty and risk surrounding AV implementation.

To arrive at a prioritized set of recommendations local governments and AV providers, we used a proprietary “4P Framework,” which assigns equal weighting and consideration to (1) People, (2) Profit, (3) Planet, and (4) Possibility. After a thorough evaluation of these criteria, we focused on six key recommendations:

- 1. Implementing A Flexible Curb-use Model with Dynamic Pricing;

- 2. Creating an AV Piloting Checklist;

- 3. Appling Geofencing to Urban Core;

- 4. Prohibiting Digita Redlining;

- 5. Defining Clear Rules of Data Ownership, Use, and Retention; and

- 6. Taxing Low-Occupancy/“Zombie” Cars.

Although we arrive at a set of effective practices recommendations for municipalities to consider, the value of these series of articles is in guiding the development of AV regulation holistically rather than prescribing specific recommendations. As such, municipalities should use this report as a starting point and determine appropriate policies based on the context of their specific situation, adapting the effective practices to best align to their policy goals.

Keywords: AVs, Autonomous Vehicles, Local Government, Regulatory Policy, Public Policy, Harvard, Harvard Kennedy School, HKS

Suggested Citation

Charland, Lucien and Liu, Roy and Strickland, Jeremy, Freedom, Trust, and Mobility: A Study in U.S. Autonomous Vehicle Regulatory Policy and Federalism (April 2, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3513656 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3513656

Lucien Charland

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Roy Liu

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jeremy Strickland (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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