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Will autonomous vehicles change residential location and vehicle ownership? Glimpses from Georgia


Many studies have begun investigating possible transportation landscapes in the autonomous vehicle (AV) era, but empirical results on longer-term decisions are limited. We address this gap using data collected from a survey designed and implemented for Georgia residents in 2017–2018. Focusing on a hypothetical all-AV future, this section of the survey included questions regarding advantages/disadvantages of AVs, short-term mode choice impacts, medium-term impacts on activity patterns, and long-term behavioral changes – specifically, whether/how AVs will influence individuals to change residential location and the number of cars in the household. We hypothesize that AVs could act in concert with attitudinal preferences to stimulate changes in these long-term decisions, and that some medium-term activity changes triggered by AVs could motivate people to relocate their residence or shed household vehicles. We applied exploratory factor analysis to measure the perceived likelihood that AVs would prompt various medium-term changes. We then included some of those measures, among other variables, in a cross-nested logit (CNL) model of the choice of the residential location/vehicle ownership bundle. Although more than half of respondents expected “no change” in their bundle, we found that younger, lower income, pro-suburban, and pro-non-car-mode individuals were more likely to anticipate changing their selections. In addition, some expected medium-term impacts of AVs influenced changes in these longer-term choices. We further applied the CNL model to two population segments (Atlanta and non-Atlanta-region residents). We found notable improvement in goodness of fit and different effects of factors across segments, signifying the existence of geography-related taste heterogeneity.

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