July Event Details

Autonomous and Connected Vehicles - Will They Make Things Better or Worse? 

The Issue 

Urbanization and rising incomes have been driving rapid motorization mostly in major cities across the United States, if no action is taken, the cars associated with this growth literally threaten to choke tomorrow’s cities, bringing with them a host of negative consequences that would seriously undermine the overall benefits of urbanization and quality of life. Automation is one of the suggested ideas to solve this problem. One of the main potential advantages of automation is safer driving.  A safer autonomous system could allow for different and significantly lighter vehicles that would need less energy to ride. A fleet of easily available automated vehicles could also make ride-sharing more attractive, and potentially reduce levels of auto ownership. However, digital innovation does not automatically guarantee that the future of mobility will indeed be more sustainable. If we don’t get it right, these disruptions could also exacerbate existing urban transport problems. It is not clear how autonomous vehicles will perform in a mixed environment – computer and human. Jaywalking pedestrians or less-than-perfect manual drivers would cause autonomous cars to stop. Moreover, by making driving virtually effortless, automated vehicles may also encourage longer trips and an exodus to the suburbs, translating into more and more urban sprawl. Combined with the ease of shared mobility, these factors can increase congestion and make public transport less viable.


Jim Barbaresso, HNTB Fellow, Senior Vice President and Practice Leader, Intelligent Transportation Systems 

Jim Barbaresso has more than 39 years of experience in transportation planning, transportation operations, and ITS in both the public and private sectors. He leads the HNTB ITS Practice and provides subject matter expertise on highway, transit, aviation and tolling projects across the United States, including some of the nation’s most challenging emerging mobility programs like Smart Columbus and the Tampa Connected Vehicle Pilot. He is an advisor for many state DOTs and cities on smart city solutions and automated vehicle planning. Jim also is involved in the development of 2 of the USDOT automated vehicle proving ground initiatives.

Jim has also written numerous white papers and articles on public agency considerations regarding new mobility solutions in our age of connectivity and automation, and has given a TED talk on the impacts of connected automation.

Tim Haile, Deputy Executive Director, Contra Costa Transportation Authority 

Tim serves as the Authority’s Deputy Executive Director for Projects and is responsible for the delivery of the capital improvement program, implementation of projects identified in the Expenditure Plan as well as other projects funded from grant or other outside sources. He manages strategic planning and oversees all aspects of program management and project administration.

Tim has served the Authority since May 2017 bringing more than nineteen years of experience in transportation program and project management. He is recognized for his dynamic thinking, leadership, innovation, proactive management style and developing partnerships. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, Pomona.