fbpx The Basics of Autonomous Vehicles | Harvard Kennedy School

Autonomous vehicles could have an impact across countries and across the economy. Policymakers should be equipped with the right information to anticipate and respond to those impacts.

We know that some policymakers might feel that they do not currently have access to that information, or that the technology is simply moving too quickly to adapt. But that does not have to be the case!

Each of the "basics" included below provides an overview of a key component of autonomous vehicles technology that will be relevant for policymakers, including both insights and outstanding questions that have not yet been resolved.

  • Testing and Policy: Autonomous vehicles testing is currently underway around the world. However, different countries (and US states) have taken significantly different approaches to regulating and monitoring these tests. This document provides an overview of the current market leaders, the testing environment in the US and globally, and possible directions for future policy.
  • Infrastructure: Autonomous vehicles could significantly change the demand for, and usage of, urban infrastructure. This document reviews the impact AVs could have on roads, parking, curb space, fleet management facilities, and public space.
  • Technology: What technology makes autonomous driving possible? The answer is a combination of sensors, connectivity, and software/control algorithms. Learn more about the technology that enables AV operations by downloading this document.
  • Economic Development: While the economic impacts of autonomous vehicles remain uncertain, some cities, states, and local governments are already preparing for the disruption they are anticipated to bring. Learn more about the economic development implications of AVs and the economic development tools already being used to prepare for their arrival in this document.