Are shared automated vehicles the key to sustainable, livable, equitable, and just cities?
According to entrepreneur and author Robin Chase, Automated Vehicles (AVs) have the potential to usher a new urban era. The key to unlock this future (instead of a grim future of congestion, mass unemployment, and deficits) is to share the AVs, rather than own them.
"We might actually get a chance at a do-over — of our cities, our fossil fuel dependence, and the social contract with labor — thanks to the impending advent of autonomous cars. Yes, their arrival is inevitable, but how they will impact us is yet to be determined. (...)
We’re at a fork on that roadmap. One direction leads to a productive new century where cities are more sustainable, livable, equitable, and just.
But if we take the wrong turn, we’re at a dead end. "
Though somewhat simplistic in the way it derives so many consequences from one change (shared vehicles), the paper is full of valuable insights:
"Simply eliminating the drivers from cars, and keeping everything else about our system the same, will be a disaster. Picture zombie cars — those with no one in them — clogging our cities and our roads, because it will be cheaper to keep them moving than to pay for expensive urban parking, and cheaper to bring retail to a customer than to pay rent on a retail store. While the number of vehicle miles driven skyrockets, our transportation infrastructure revenues, dependent on the gas tax, parking, fees, and fines will disappear. (...)"