The Road Towards Equity in the Twin Cities: Envisioning the future of Vehicle Automation, Job Access and Equity in the 21st Century

Principal Investigator(s):

Thomas Fisher, Professor, Metropolitan Design Center


Project summary:

The future of transportation is inseparable from the future of work. Over the last century, transportation has focused on moving people and goods, but work in the 21st century has started to change dramatically due to vehicle automation, changing consumer patterns, and the rise of virtual retail. These factors will bring profound changes in transportation, infrastructure, and access to resources in the city, including housing, food, public spaces, and labor opportunities. This research project is investigating the implications of the forthcoming changes in transportation, mobility, and the nature of work. It is focusing on the impact of vehicle automation on jobs access and is exploring the tensions that arise as new vehicle automation technologies are introduced into the streets of neighborhoods with historically disadvantaged residents. The generative questions we are asking as we engage in this research are: 1) What new kinds of jobs might emerge as a result of vehicle automation and where might they occur? 2) What kinds of jobs will disappear as a result of vehicle automation? Where might their disappearance occur? 3) How might automated vehicles themselves become work places and what form might that take? 4) How might automated vehicles displace existing workplaces and what form may those existing workplaces take in order to remain relevant? 5) What implications does vehicle automation have for office, retail, residential, and industrial land uses? 6) What implications does vehicle automation have for existing urban form, residential patterns, urban development patterns, access to housing, and public infrastructures? 7) How might work be spatially re-distributed and what implications might that have for community development, gentrification, and residential segregation? 8) What impact might vehicle automation and the transformation of labor have for historically disadvantaged communities?

Project details:

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