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CASE Vehicles’ Emergence

The subject of Connected, Automated, Shared, and Electric (CASE) vehicles, is a multidisciplinary issue with several different stakeholders engaged in their implementation. There are multiple teams, from federal and state agencies, OEMs, and academia to startups and larger consortiums, working on this complex subject.


User attitudes and a lack of market demand for CASE vehicles, insurance and liability challenges, regulatory issues, infrastructure needs, and technological challenges, are among the significant hurdles currently identified to the use of these vehicles. To overcome these social and technological concerns, states should shift towards creating a more productive, sustainable, and smart environment. The transition from conventional vehicles to CASE vehicles depends on the development of technology, as well as consumer acceptance and policies.

Forces to Implementation of Connected, Automated, Shared, and Electric (CASE) Vehicles. Image Credits: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9343324


At the time of writing this column, the automotive industry is moving away from the CASE vehicle hype. A more realistic understanding of the hurdles regarding their implementation and what kinds of automation will be available and when has developed. There have been several industry consolidations and partnerships among network and automobile companies to develop a critical mass for new CASE technologies. However, investments by federal agencies remain less than private investments. Developers and investors tend to focus on narrowly defined use cases. Empirical evidence suggests we are far from level 5 automation (fully autonomous vehicles). A few experimental automation product use cases include the following:

  • low-speed urban first- or last-mile transit access,

  • low-speed urban package delivery such as buses in protected busways,

  • trucks on low-density rural motorways, whether individually or as platoon followers (including protected sites such as mines and ports),

  • taxi services in retirement communities for low-density Sunbelt suburbs,

  • the limited number of Tesla autopilot cases for conventional personal cars.

It should also be noted that Tesla is currently only at automation level 2. Tesla’s cars require the driver to be hands-off for no more than 30 seconds, and never have their eyes off the road; while level 5 is completely hands-off, and eyes off on any road, and in any weather and traffic conditions. The most advanced level 2 car currently available is General Motor’s SuperCruise that was designed for limited access divided highways and works on 70,000 miles of road in the U.S., in good weather.


There have been several advances in fleet operations in the past few years, and strong momentum is building behind driverless human transport by Robo-taxi and goods movement by Robo-delivery and Robo-truck. Goods movement autonomy could be categorized into four types: streets, controlled environments, resource roads, and highways. Regarding the automated street movement of goods, for business-to-business (B2B) parcel delivery, Waymo is working with UPS, while GATIK is working with Walmart and Loblaw. Einride is also working with Oatly, Lidl, and Coca-Cola. Also, with regard to automated business-to-consumer (B2C) parcel delivery, Nuru is working with Fry’s Food, Kroger, and CVS.


There is a small market for controlled environments, mainly for industrial use and logistics yards, but big OEMs have not invested much in this area. Concerning resource roads (unpaved roads and remote areas), companies such as FPInnovations employ automated trucks for timber-hauling. Ultimately, when it comes to highways, there are several players in both platooning and solo driverless vehicles. In the case of platooning, active startups include Peloton, Locomation, Robotic Research, while active OEMs include Traton Group, Volvo, and Daimler. With regard to solo driverless vehicles, several companies (such as Utobon, Ike, Waymo, tusimple, Embark, Kodiak, Aurora, Einride, pony.ai, plus.ai, Navistar, Tesla, Volvo, Traton, and Daimler) are working to enable both ramp-to-ramp and dock-to-dock driverless trips.


Although there have been several concerns related to this technology, user attitudes, and regulations of CAVs, software safety engineering, and software verification and validation (V&V) have been evolving significantly over the past decade. However, there are still some issues that must be solved to encourage the smooth adoption of CASE. In addition, there is regulatory uncertainty regarding distributed decision-making. Finally – but most importantly – users who might buy CASE vehicles have mixed attitudes about them. The unresolved challenges for successful CASE implementation are discussed in the following sections: technological obstacles, user attitude problems, and regulatory challenges.


First, concerning unresolved technological obstacles, there are several factors for EVs, AVs, CVs, and SAVs that currently require more attention. The high cost of battery technology, short battery life, the limited number of charging stations, and the long wait times for charging, are among the biggest concerns for fleet electrification that researchers must solve. Regarding AVs, most ADAS users are satisfied with the technology, and the main stakeholders must, therefore, better present this automated technology to gain consumers’ trust. Regarding CVs, specific determinants impact the effectiveness of these systems, including the number of DSRC-equipped cars, the cellular coverage quality, and the presence of additional ITS facilities. Currently, for SAVs, most citizens view car ownership and driving as symbols of freedom and prestige, and the user mindset must change from an asset-focused environment to a digitally focused and asset-less environment that supports mobility as a service (MaaS).


Second, there exists a gap between car owners, companies, and public parties, and their willingness to accept and pay for the new CASE technologies. Moreover, there are still trust issues and critical doubts about the safety and costs of these vehicles. Policymakers need to better identify potential policies that can increase the level of trust among users.


Third, concerning unresolved regulatory challenges, issues such as privacy and security, licensing, and insurance and liability are among the main factors that still need further investigation. All stakeholders in the regulatory environment – whether federal, state, or local – must work together and pass the required laws needed for the smooth implementation of CASE vehicles.


By considering the influences examined in this work and removing the barriers to the implementation and adoption of CASE vehicles, the government can then leverage the benefits of these vehicles. By so doing, the roads’ level of service will ultimately be enhanced.


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