How Self-Driving Vehicles will Transform Urban Planning & Urban Places

Image from: Marc van der Chijs

Lots of dreamy articles and pieces are circulating this year about the impact of self-driving vehicles on our cities. 

Here are some of our favorite take-aways and thought points:

"Vehicle automation will require 80 percent fewer cars on any given highway"
- Carlo Ratti, Director, MIT Senseable City Lab

At the same time, the easier it becomes, the more that people might opt to take a self-driving vehicle. "Unless these vehicles are shared, we’ll probably see a dramatic increase of the number of cars on our streets."    
- From: Gizmodo

"Distances will become less of an obstacle as our autonomous vehicles promise media-saturated interiors that smoothly deliver us from walkable bubble to walkable bubble."
- From: Beyond Google’s Cute Car


"...many transportation plans which project outcomes decades into the future focus almost exclusively on the problem of automobile congestion and prescribe increased infrastructure in the form of new roads as the primary cure. Experts and trends, however, point to a future that will be increasingly multi-modal."
- City of the Future, National League of Cities


"...exactly how cities will change depends entirely on one thing: who owns all of these self-driving cars. There are three options for ownership when it comes to autonomous vehicles. We could continue with our current system, in which people own private cars. We could begin using shared fleets, owned by companies like Google, municipal cab companies, or cities themselves, that operate a bit like taxis, picking up one person at a time. Or—and this is the method preferred by many urban planners—we could turn to shared fleets that also offer shared rides, like Uber Pool, in which you take the backseat with some strangers headed in the same direction."
- From Slate.com

We need to take care: "Rivers of older cars—who, in the future as today, tend to be poorer—may be excluded from certain parts of the city (as they already are in Paris) or shunted into traffic jams while AVs race by in another lane."
- From Slate.com

Keep your eyes on one of the first test cases, as Uber tries out a fleet of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh
- Uber's roll out of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh.
 

Amber Hawkes

Los Angeles, CA