ASU transportation study supports expanded autonomous vehicle use

September 22, 2021

new study conducted by Arizona State University reveals public enthusiasm for greater use of autonomous vehicles, or AVs. Participants in a six-month experiment among older and disabled residents in the Phoenix metro area said they felt AV services were safe, convenient and even preferable to traditional taxis or ride-share options.

The positive results are part of a report authored by transportation experts from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at ASU. The work was sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration and conducted for the Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority of Greater Phoenix, in partnership with the Waymo autonomous-driving technology company. A small stage surrounded by Waymo autonomous cars and Valley Metro light rail train carriages The Federal Transit Administration has released a report about a unique mobility-on-demand service demonstration conducted by Valley Metro and Waymo. The results, authored by researchers in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, highlight significant passenger enthusiasm for autonomous vehicles. Photo courtesy of Valley Metro Download Full Image

“This pilot study is unique in that it was the first one to deploy a true AV-based mobility-on-demand service for members of the public to use for their regular daily trips,” said Ram Pendyala, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Fulton Schools and director of the Center for Teaching Old Models New Tricks, or TOMNET, a multi-university research consortium sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation. “Participants could summon rides with a smartphone app, just like they would for Uber or Lyft, and take Waymo AV rides to work, shopping, dining and more.”

The experiment operated between September 2019 and March 2020 in a 100-square-mile area encompassing parts of Chandler, Mesa and Tempe, Arizona. Participating passengers were registered users of Valley Metro’s RideChoice program, a subsidized taxi or ride-hailing service for paratransit-certified people under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, and for people age 65 and over living in the Phoenix area.

In addition to using AV transport for more than 1,100 journeys that averaged about 5 miles and 10 minutes, passengers completed surveys to offer their perceptions of safety, convenience, comfort and other factors in three stages: prior to the introduction of the AV service, during the operation of the service and after the experiment was completed.

The project goal was to better understand whether autonomous vehicles can fit within a community transit and mobility program, and the results indicate the answer is a resounding yes. Data show a majority of participants used the AV service to engage in more activities outside the home than they typically would using conventional ride services. Three-quarters of passengers also said they would be comfortable riding alone in an AV, meaning without one of the human safety drivers who were stationed in the Waymo cars during the experiment.

“It is exciting to see how well autonomous vehicles were accepted as a viable travel solution for seniors and persons with disabilities,” said Jon Edwards, Valley Metro board chair and Peoria councilmember. “With a growing demand for affordable transportation, we are on the brink of a new era.”

Nicole Gavel, head of business development and strategic partnerships for Waymo, added, “The insights gained through this first-of-its-kind partnership support developing a product and service that holds the promise of enabling mobility for all, offering a new kind of freedom for individuals to go where they want, when they want.”

Luke Tate, the managing director of ASU’s Office of Applied Innovation and the person who initiated the research support for the experiment, agrees that such positive results point to opportunities for greater social equity.

“As the operational cost curve of autonomous vehicles bends downward and their usage becomes more widespread, municipal subsidy of AV use may be key to unlocking point-to-point mobility for low-income and mobility-limited citizens, opening a world of new educational, economic and other opportunities,” Tate said. “Sometimes getting a ride when you need it may make the difference between losing your job or not, getting to a long-sought medical appointment or not, or other serious consequences that never occur to folks with reliable transportation.”

Thad Miller, who served as an associate professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society until the fall of 2020, conducted focus groups with study participants as well as with transportation planners and policymakers in the region. The focus group conversations consistently revealed that passengers would like to see AVs deployed on a wider scale, and that transportation professionals are eager for more studies.

Consequently, Pendyala says he hopes the results will inspire more AV-based experiments — locally, nationally and even globally.

“AV technology is evolving rapidly, and different types of technologies and use cases are being developed,” said Pendyala, who also directs the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the seven Fulton Schools. “From Waymo-type AV ride services to AV buses and shuttles to AV-based freight and trucking technology, there are many possible avenues for AVs to potentially find their way into our mobility landscape.”

In addition to Pendyala, who was the study’s principal investigator, the report’s authors include Miller, Research Professor Peter Stopher, Postdoctoral Research Associate Devon McAslan, Graduate Research Associate Tassio Magassy and Graduate Research Associate Farah Arevalo.

Full details about “An Evaluation of the Valley Metro-Waymo Automated Vehicle RideChoice Mobility-on-Demand Demonstration” are available from the Federal Transit Administration.

Gary Werner

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


ASU-LACMA fellowship program expands to include Pérez Art Museum of Miami

September 22, 2021

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts are pleased to announce that the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) has joined as a new partner in the ASU-LACMA Master’s Fellowship in Art History. PAMM’s first fellow, Emily Valdes, joins what is now the third cohort of individuals in the program, along with five new fellows from LACMA.

The ASU-LACMA Master’s Fellowship was founded in 2018 as a partnership between ASU and LACMA with the aim to culturally diversify the leadership of art museums in the United States. The three-year degree program combines rigorous academic training with on-the-job experience to develop a new generation of diverse curators, directors and other museum professionals, with the goal of investing in the existing pipeline of talent and accelerating the careers of individuals already working on museum staffs. The fellows earn their master’s degree in art history from the ASU School of Art’s distinguished art history program in the Herberger Institute, while also working at LACMA, the ASU Art Museum or, beginning this fall, PAMM. ASU-LACMA Fellows Ariana Enriquez and Matthew Villar Miranda work with Janice Schopfer, senior paper conservator in LACMA's Conservation Lab. ASU-LACMA Fellows Ariana Enriquez and Matthew Villar Miranda work with Janice Schopfer, senior paper conservator in LACMA's Conservation Lab.

“We are honored to join our esteemed colleagues at LACMA and ASU,” said Franklin Sirmans, director of PAMM. “Having seen this program come into existence while working at LACMA and then watching the first cohort rise in the ranks of their institutions, we are delighted to be a part of this important scholarly endeavor, and for Pérez Art Museum Miami to be represented by our first fellow, Emily Valdes. This transformative program is another step in the process of preparing museums for the new American future, with the diverse, innovative leadership necessary to make museums dynamic and vibrant, and integral to the lives of all.”

Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director, noted that earlier this summer, ASU and LACMA celebrated the graduation of the first LACMA-ASU Master's Fellows.

"Our graduates are already building off their academic training to curate exhibitions, further their research and inform their museum work,” Govan said. “Our collaboration with ASU has been deep and fruitful, and we are thrilled to expand our joint commitment to advance the careers of a new generation of museum leaders by partnering with additional institutions around the country."

The inaugural cohort of fellows, which graduated in May 2021, included Dhyandra Lawson, assistant curator in LACMA’s Wallis Annenberg Photography Department; Celia Yang, major gift officer and head of director's strategic initiatives, Asia at LACMA; Matthew Villar Miranda, ASU Art Museum’s Curatorial Fellow, now a visual arts curatorial fellow at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; and Ariana Enriquez, assistant registrar at the ASU Art Museum. Both Lawson and Yang were recently promoted, reflecting the scholarship and skill sets that each has been able to bring to their work through their engagement with the fellowship program. Enriquez said in a recent interview with ARTnews that the fellowship program helped her become aware of “the ways that I can make transformative change within my department.” (Read the full ARTnews story about the ASU-LACMA fellowship program.)

“We’re grateful for the many contributions the fellows make in our classes and scholarly lives,” said Angélica Afanador-Pujol, program director for the ASU-LACMA Master's Fellowship. “We are proud to continue to support them in their museum careers, and we welcome the addition of PAMM to the program.”

The 2021 ASU-LACMA + PAMM Fellows

Jayne Manuel

Jayne Manuel earned her BA in art history, theory and criticism with honors from the University of California San Diego in 2015. Manuel joined LACMA’s registration department in September 2015 and currently serves as the registration administrator for the highly active outgoing-loans program. Through an interdisciplinary art history/ethnic studies/transnational feminist approach, Manuel seeks to uplift Filipino artists and stories of the diaspora into the institutional canon. She intends to focus on 1980s Philippine art collectives and contemporary Filipino artists based in the United States, studying their depictions of intergenerational trauma and understanding of collective memory transmission.

Stephanie Rouinfar

Stephanie Rouinfar received her BFA in art history in 2015 from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She joined LACMA in August 2015 as a social media intern in the communications department. In March 2016 she joined the Art of the Middle East department as the curatorial administrator. She has assisted with six exhibitions, including the recent exhibition “In the Fields of Empty Days: The Intersection of Past and Present in Iranian Art.” As a fellow in the ASU-LACMA program, Rouinfar plans to further study contemporary art of the Middle East, focusing on works concerning gender and feminism.

Mariama Salia

Mariama Salia is from Seattle and received a BA in history and cinema studies from the University of Washington in 2014. After working in Seattle’s art scene, she moved to Los Angeles in 2018 to find more diverse creative spaces that allowed for expansion. She began working for the Balch Art Research Library in 2019 as an acquisitions assistant, purchasing and borrowing books for upcoming exhibitions, including special research projects. Her Ghanaian-Romanian background informs her interest in making art representative and accessible, and she plans to develop an interactive project aimed at engaging with and representing other queer artists of color. Salia intends to utilize the extensive resources within the library and the museum to trace and reassess historical boundaries facing marginalized artists who bridge the cultural divide.

Jennifer Snow

Jennifer Snow is manager of corporate partnerships at LACMA. Since joining the museum’s development department in 2015, she has served an integral role on the corporate partnerships team supporting LACMA’s relationships with key corporate partners, including Hyundai Motor Company, Gucci, Snap Inc., Audi, The Walt Disney Company, SpaceX and more. During her time at LACMA, she successfully launched and managed special institutional projects such as LACMA’s first-ever Kickstarter campaign in 2017, bringing the world’s smallest contemporary art museum, NuMu, across multiple borders to Los Angeles, and most recently, LACMA × Snapchat: Monumental Perspectives, a multi-year initiative that uses augmented reality to explore monuments and murals, representation and history. Snow earned her BA in art history and communications in 2012 from the University of California, San Diego, and in 2014 received her MA in humanities from the University of Chicago. She is excited to resume her studies at Arizona State University, researching the convergence of art and technology and the role of museums within this intersection. 

Deliasofia Zacarias

Deliasofia Zacarias is the Snap Research Fellow based in the director’s office for the LACMA × Snapchat: Monumental Perspectives, an initiative that explores monuments, history and representation in public space using augmented reality. In addition to the various special projects in the director’s office, Zacarias directly supports the collaboration among the curatorial team, artists and technologists to realize the augmented reality lenses as part of Monumental Perspectives. Zacarias joined the museum in August 2019 as a LACMA Emerging Arts Professionals (LEAP) Fellow — part of the Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative supported by the Walton Family Foundation and Ford Foundation. Zacarias also serves on the board of the Arts Administrators of Color Network. At ASU, Zacarias intends to research the intersection of contemporary art, feminist theory and landscape architecture and make use of LACMA’s and ASU’s rich collections. She holds a BA in studio art and business administration from Trinity University in San Antonio, where she was the recipient of the Mach Fellowship and received an Excellence in Art Award.

Emily Valdes

Emily Valdes graduated from the University of Miami with a BA in art history in 2015. Since then, she has held a variety of positions at the Wolfsonian FIU, Margulies Collection at the Warehouse and Lowe Art Museum. Today, she works collaboratively with curators, artists and preparators as assistant registrar at Miami’s flagship art museum, Pérez Art Museum Miami. At PAMM, Valdes plays an active role in the execution of a robust exhibition schedule, as well as day-to-day collections management efforts. As a first-generation Cuban American, Valdes is particularly interested in Latina artists who have failed to receive equal recognition to their male contemporaries, or Latina artists whose practices are deeply rooted in intersectional feminism. Though it is still nascent in conception, she is eager to produce a successful body of research significant to the advancement of Latina representation in museums and the acknowledgement of their unique contributions to the art historical canon.

Deborah Sussman

Communications and media specialist, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts