Automation in Transportation


On April 16, 2018 at the Port of Palm Beach, CUES hosted a discussion on the role of automated and connected vehicles in transportation with Dr. Tim Schwanen, director of the Transport Studies Unit and Associate Professor in Transport Studies at the University of Oxford; Dr. Louis Merlin, AICP, Assistant Professor at Florida Atlantic University; and Steve Lockwood, Institutional Transportation Engineering Consultant at Steve Lockwood, LLC. Presented by CUES with support from the  Freight Mobility Research Institute  and the  Palm Beach County Planning Congress.

Approved for 3 AICP CM credits


1:00 Opening remarks—John Renne, FAU’s Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions, Evangelos Kaisar, FAU’s Freight Mobility Research Institute, and Carl Baker, Port of Palm Beach

Presentations & Videos are available

1:10-1:30  Automated Vehicles 101—Louis Merlin, Florida Atlantic University Presentation |  VIDEOS
1:30-1:50  Connected Vehicles—Steve Lockwood, Steve Lockwood, LLC Presentation | VIDEO
1:50-2:30  Automation in Goods Mobility—Tim Schwanen, University of Oxford Presentation |  VIDEOS

2:30-3:00 Q&A
3:00-3:15 Break
3:15–4:00 Guided tour of The Port of Palm Beach
4:00-5:30 Reception Rafiki Tiki – Riviera Beach Marina Village, 190 E 13th St, Riviera Beach, FL 33404

Location and parking

Enter the Port from East 11th Street and let the personnel know you’re attending the meeting in the Port of Palm Beach offices. You’ll be directed to free parking. Once inside, an elevator will take you to the 6th floor.

For more information, please contact Dr. John Renne, director of FAU’s Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions (CUES) at  or CUES Outreach Coordinator, Serena Hoermann at

Topics & Speakers

Automation in Goods Mobility: Expectations and Prospects

Tim Schwanen, Transport Studies Unit, University of Oxford

Across the global North, the prospect of a rapid transition towards autonomous vehicles (AVs) in the road transport of both passengers and freight has caught the imagination of numerous policymakers, professionals and academics alike. Expectations about market introduction and diffusion of AVs as articulated in the mass media, consultancy reports and policy documents have become increasingly optimistic. As far as the UK is concerned, those expectations stand in considerable contrast with the perceptions of many stakeholders in the freight industry, as suggested by a series of in-depth interviews conducted as part of a study into future of automation in goods mobility. In the seminar, I will, first of all, explore the causes behind this discrepancy in expectations. To this end, I will draw on concepts and ideas from the sociology of expectations, the sociotechnical transition literature, and writings on the performativity of language and discourse. I will propose that the observed discrepancy is a consequence of the political economy of innovation processes in contemporary globalized capitalism, prevailing understandings in the western world about human-technology relationships, and the structure and institutions in the freight transport sector. Second, and bearing those causes in mind, I will elaborate several potential pathways for how automation in road transport of freight in the UK might be developed and diffused. Differences between long and short haul movement and between haulers will be considered, and implications for developments in the USA will be outlined as well.

About the presenter

Tim Schwanen is Director of the Transport Studies Unit and Associate Professor of Transport Studies at the University of Oxford. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Human Geography from Utrecht University in the Netherlands (2003, cum laude). Before taking up his current role in 2015, he held various research and lecturer positions at Utrecht University and the University of Oxford. Tim is currently also a Visiting Professor in Human Geography at the School of Business, Economics and Law of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Tim’s research concentrates on the geographical and social dimensions of the everyday mobilities of people, goods, and information. It addresses many themes and topics, including the transition towards low-carbon transportation, technological innovation in everyday mobility, the links between wellbeing and mobility, and the interactions between social differentiation and transportation. He has published more than 100 articles in leading academic journals in transportation research, geography, urban studies and interdisciplinary science. He is a past editor-in-chief of the Journal of Transport Geography (2013-2015).

Automated Vehicles 101

Louis Merlin, School of Urban & Regional Planning, Florida Atlantic University

What does the advent of automated vehicles mean for the future of urban mobility? As of the present moment, transportation academics and experts have more questions than answers. But policymakers need to act in the near term to help guide the future of vehicle automation in a way that is beneficial to society. This presentation will be a brief tour of the issues surrounding automated vehicles and the promise of connected and automated mobility to help solve the problems of contemporary urban transportation.

About the presenter

Louis A. Merlin, Ph.D., AICP, is an Assistant Professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Florida Atlantic University.  Dr. Merlin draws upon a strong background in Mathematics and Operations Research as well as experience as a professional urban planner in his teaching and research. Dr. Merlin is particularly interested in developing mathematical models that shed insight into pressing urban policy questions.

Connected Vehicles – Capitalizing on Collective Intelligence in Future Passenger and Freight Transportation

Steve Lockwood, Steve Lockwood, LLC, Transportation Institutional Engineering

Connected vehicles (CV) represent an important component and technology advance regarding transportation — introducing the ability to make real-time information connections among vehicles (V2V), between vehicles and traffic operators (V2I), with other modes (V2P), and, with sources of information and entertainment (V2 Cloud).

Both cars and trucks already have various forms of external communications by satellite, cellular and Bluetooth – supporting navigation, security services, fleet management, and infotainment. New communications technology – with higher speeds and capacity – will expand applications more directly into real-time mobility and safety management in – working in concert with autonomous vehicle (AV) systems and intelligent transportation system (ITS) infrastructure.

The public interest CV applications requiring high-speed communication require special onboard equipment to combine and communicate vehicle status information in real time — either to other vehicles or to roadside infrastructure for crash and congestion reduction — and to provide highway conditions data to state and local governments.  A range of (revenue-generating) commercial applications can also be built on improved CV communications — including vehicle maintenance information, pay-as-you-drive insurance, and truck fleet management.

As the technology and systems evolve, CV can provide important support to other emerging transportation service arenas, including: (1)  “mobility as a service” (MaaS) offering coordinated multimodal transit information and payment services; (2) ride-hailing and ride-sharing networks being provided by transportation network companies (TMCs) like Uber and Lyft; and, (3) freight vehicle platooning to reduce operating and manpower costs.

The necessary advanced connected vehicle technologies are currently in the research and pilot testing phase. There are significant issues related to communication spectrum reservation for connected vehicles and to the choice of CV communications technology.  The US DOT has supported a significant research and pilot testing program involving state and local governments, focused on dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) technology; but the option of advanced cellular systems is supported by various components of interested private industry.  The choice of technology has important implications for implementation at the state and local level since DSRC requires state and local government’s investments in roadside communications infrastructure and development of the technical capabilities to operate CV systems – whereas cellular-based systems would likely be in the private sector.

Florida DOT currently has a significant connected vehicle pilot program, investigating a wide range of technology and applications issues, including signal timing, platooning, transit operations and pedestrian safety,

It is possible that various technologies will converge – especially given that most new CV functions and services of interest must await significant market penetration – both in vehicles systems through fleet turnover, and in roadside infrastructure developed by state and local governments – a process that may take 15 to 20 years. In the meantime, there are significant policy and institutional issues under consideration.  These include privacy, security, liability and data ownership – as well as maintenance of the public interest in a context where development is being substantially driven by the private sector.

About the presenter

Steve Lockwood is a nationally-renowned institutional engineering consultant supporting federal and state government in the development of policy, program and institutional solutions to highway transportation problems.