Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2022 - 19

Emerging Technologies
Accessibility:
the Future of Mobility
by Lawrence D. Burns
Innovation allowing us to use our time more flexibly and
efficiently has become more important than finding ways to
speed up travel. The implications for automakers are profound.
In August 1975, I headed west from Michigan in
my new Chevy Van, personally customized for living
on the road. My destination was the University of
California, Berkeley, where I was enrolled to pursue
a doctorate In transportation engineering. My van
allowed me to experience the parks, mountains, and
forests along the way. I felt like a prospector driven by
the Gold Rush, but I was searching for new adventures
instead of gold. My " rush " came from the freedom to
go where I had never been before. As it turned out, this
freedom ultimately motivated my research at Berkeley.
At the time, roadway transportation was a hot
topic as significant safety, fuel economy and emissions
regulations were established. Roadway transportation
planning was fixated on the trips people made and
the modes they used, with personal automobiles by
far being the mode of choice. Governments collected
data on trip origins and destinations, and then used it
to plan highway projects and transit systems to accommodate
predicted travel patterns.
One issue with this approach is that the value we
get from owning vehicles cannot be explained solely
by the trips we make using them. Instead, we buy
vehicles because they allow us to go where we want,
when we want, with the people we want. If you have
a car and it is parked nearby, you simply get in it and
go. You are not constrained by routes and schedules.
Nor do you need to rely on others to get around. This
explains why people spend a lot of money to buy a
vehicle - and then leave it parked most of the time.
From my perspective in 1975, buying a car was
buying accessibility - the freedom to access whatever
is needed or desired, wherever these activities are
located, and whenever they're available. With this
in mind, I focused my research on how accessibility
depends on where and when activities occur and the
capabilities of transportation systems.
Getting cash when I was a GM engineering
student in 1969 illustrates my thinking about
Accessibility enhancements are transforming whether, where, when and
how we travel, and where and how we use our time.
AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE ENGINEERING
November 2022 19
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Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2022

Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2022 - CVR1
Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2022 - CVR2
Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2022 - 1
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Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2022 - CVR3
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