Catching up to Automated Technology: How DOTs Can Stay Ahead of the Curve For Freight

Much of the research and public discussion on the development of Automated Vehicle (AV) technology has focused on passenger vehicles but the widespread introduction of AV technologies will have major impacts on freight industry in the near future. Freight is expected to be an early adopter of AV technology as even limited implementation of the technologies will lead to substantial reductions in fuel costs, increased efficiency in scheduling and bundling shipments and possible increased flexibility in other costs through increased hours of operations. Lower fuel costs, shipping efficiencies, and greater labor productivity will offset the higher vehicle costs in the early stages of commercial introduction which is anticipated to result in higher acceptance and adoption rate. The relatively uncomplicated driving conditions of interstate routes make them ideal for the deployment of current levels of automation and are expected to be the first ground for AV operations.

The government has a direct role in the introduction of automated driving on public roads. Recognizing the potential automated technology holds for freight, government agencies should ensure that necessary regulatory changes are made, technologies are safely introduced and their full potential is achieved keeping pace with the commercially triggered technological innovation. By changing regulations and legislation, and making necessary improvement to the infrastructure, government agencies might dramatically accelerate the deployment of AVs and help maximize its benefits.

Principal Investigator(s):

Robert Ginsburg, Ph.D.
Arin Rubaci Uygur


Robert Ginsburg, Ph.D.
Arin Rubaci Uygur




Produce a report that provides analysis on the potential benefits and challenges automated technology holds for freight.  The findings indicate that relatively simple actions by government agencies can help them recognize what legal and regulatory changes will be necessary as well as physical changes to the transportation infrastructure need to be made so that technologies can be safely introduced and their full potential can be achieved.  Government agencies have to develop new structures and processes to keep pace with the commercially triggered technological innovation.


The state of technology enables us to predict some possibilities and challenges ahead; nevertheless, given the rapidly changing technology it is early to start making permanent decisions to our roadways and transportation infrastructure.  The possibilities and challenges will become clearer as testing phase continues and the technology develops; therefore, the most important role that awaits State DOTs at this stage is that of a collaborator.  The state needs to create mechanisms both internally and in collaboration with the freight industry to track and understand what is being developed and introduced and plan for what needs to be done to promote and accommodate the new technology.

Expected Results or Products:

The report includes sections that provide:

  1. An analysis of the potential of automated technology has for freight transportation.
  2. Information on the benefits of widespread implementation of automated technology for the trucking and freight industries.
  3. Proposed responsibilities needed by governments to launch automated technology.
  4. Recommendations and next steps.


Download the report


Robert Ginsburg
Urban Transportation Center
University of Illinois at Chicago
412 South Peoria Street, Suite 340
Chicago, IL 60607
Voice: (312) 413-4663
Fax: (312) 413-0006


Illinois Department of Transportation