Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Destination Medical Center initiative in Rochester has been chosen to participate in a University of Minnesota research project concerning the use of autonomous vehicles. The National Science Foundation grant will provide the U of M with $1.75 million over three years to work toward the possible development of what’s termed a “smart cloud commuting system.” Proponents envision community’s using large pools of shared autonomous vehicles to provide inexpensive transportation services to everyone.

“Using autonomous vehicles in this way will provide inexpensive mobility services to all people especially people with socio-economic disadvantages,” said Saif Benjaafar, a University of Minnesota professor of industrial and systems engineering in the College of Science and Engineering and a Center for Transportation Studies senior scholar who is a co-director on the project. “A system like this would help build stronger family and community ties, and boost economic productivity and equity by mitigating or removing mobility constraints.”

The final research report will include policy recommendations, design guidelines, and quantifiable information that can be accessed communities for transportation planning purposes.