Breakout Session #7

AVs and Vulnerable Road Users: Envisioning a Healthy, Safe, and Equitable Future

Monday, July 9, 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Room: Golden Gate 6


  • Justin M. Owens, Research Scientist, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Center for Vulnerable Road User Safety
  • Laura Sandt, Senior Research Associate, UNC Highway Safety Research Center

Session Description

This breakout session is dedicated to expanding the discussion surrounding the interaction between VRUs of all types and AV systems, particularly exploring considerations related to mobility, planning and equity. The breakout session will be divided up into two speaker panels. The first will be focused on presentations of the latest scientific advances in AV/VRU interaction, and the second will include a diverse group of voices discussing the role of equity and planning considerations for VRUs as AV technology moves toward reality. For both panels a significant amount of time will be reserved for audience interaction and discussion.


  • Learn about the latest advances in technology designed to facilitate AV/VRU interaction
  • Hear new and varied perspectives about the importance of equity, planning and design in ensuring safe and fair mobility in future transportation systems
  • Engage with researchers, experts, and safety advocates to exchange ideas and identify research needs


1:30 PM – 1:40 PM

  • Justin Owens, Research Scientist, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

1:40 PM – 3:15 PM
Research Presentations

In this portion of the session, researchers from a variety of institutions around the world will present cutting-edge research highlighting ways that we can improve safe interactions between AVs and VRUs.

  • Azra Habibovic, Senior Researcher, Research Institutes of Sweden
  • Pravin Varaiya, Professor, UC Berkeley, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences
  • Fred Feng, Post Doc, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
  • Tabitha Combs: Research Associate, University of North Carolina, Department of City & Regional Planning

3:30 PM – 5:00 PM
Panel: The Role of Equity Considerations in AV/VRU Interactions

In this panel, presenters will each briefly introduce their work and perspectives on how the proliferation of AVs may impact equity and safety, particularly ways in which city planning can both take advantage of AV technology and potential hurdles and barriers to equity. Following the brief presentations, panelists will engage in a roundtable discussion with each other and with the audience, allowing attendees to participate in the discussion and engage with experts.

  • Moderator:
    • Mohammed Yousuf
  • Panelists:
    • Ryan Snyder: Principal, Transpo Group
    • Robert Wall Emerson: Professor, Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies, Western Michigan University
    • Bernard Soriano: Deputy Director, CA DMV
    • Sarah McCullough: Associate Director, Feminist Research Institute, UC Davis

5:00 PM – 5:30 PM