Georgia Smart Communities Challenge


Chamblee is one of four Georgia communities that have developed and will implement smart design solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the state. The projects, which tackle housing, traffic congestion, sea level rise and shared autonomous vehicles, are supported through the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge. This new, Georgia Tech-led initiative brings together industry and public agencies to help local governments implement smart development for a more resilient future. The Smart Communities program provides seed funding and access to technical assistance, expert advice, and a network of peers. A Georgia Tech researcher works with the cities to advise and conduct research in support of each group’s goals. The strategies developed by the selected communities will serve as models that could be implemented elsewhere across Georgia and beyond.

Chamblee partnered with Professor Ellen Dunham-Jones, Director of the Urban Design Program for the College of Design at Georgia Tech. Professor Dunham-Jones and her students are collaborating with the city to envision the potential impacts of autonomous vehicle technology on land uses, attracting next generation residents and employees, expanding access to MARTA, prioritizing pedestrian and bicycle mobility to maintain a human scale on city streets, and improving public health. The research is important to achieve the city’s overall vision as it is transforming from a more automobile-oriented community to a more urban, transit-oriented, and multi-modal community. It focuses on how Chamblee can leverage Shared Autonomous Vehicles (SAVs) and the redevelopment opportunities they may provide to achieve the broader goals of livability and sustainable urban design. City staff and Professor Dunham-Jones and her PhD students presented information from the draft Self-Driving Shuttle Detailed Design Plan and the ongoing Best Practices Manual project at a community open house. The presentation board from the open house, with an overview of how the shuttle would operate, can be downloaded at the following link: Automated Shuttle Design Presentation.

The research will produce a "Best Practices Manual", a set of recommendations for Chamblee and other local governments to follow as they introduce SAVs onto public streets. As part of the Smart Communities Challenge Program, the City had an embedded intern, a second year graduate student at GA Tech, who worked with City Staff through Summer of 2019 on the development of the Manual.

Chamblee, concurrently, partnered with MARTA, the City of Doraville, Assembly CID, and Stantec to build on the "Self-Driving Shuttle Feasibility Study and Concept Plan", adopted in April 2018, to produce an "Automated Shuttle Detailed Design Plan", which was adopted in May 2019. (images of core route location and shuttle below) The latter includes plans for communications and system operations, preliminary engineering and supporting network concepts, and funding models. Both of these plans, and the City's recently adopted "Mobility Plan", which also addresses the City's autonomous vehicle initiatives, can be downloaded on the Adopted Plans page on the City's website.

Area map showing SAV core route with connection to the City Civic Complex in downtown

Area map showing SAV core route with City Civic Complex route and all route extensions

Core route and city civic complex
Core route and all alternate routes

        Concept image of SAV on Peachtree Road at City Civic Complex facing east

Concept image of the intersection at Peachtree Road, Malone Drive, and the north MARTA station entrance
Chamblee SAV Peachtree Rd Concept
Peachtree Rd at Malone Dr Concept
Below is the core route (in green) with its five stops, as identified in the draft Operations Plan. The first extension is shown on the right. The extension would take the SAV to the Assembly Yards mixed-use development and Third Rail movie studio.
SAV Core Route

If you have any questions concerning the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, please contact the Planning and Development Department at, or 770-986-5010.