The Internet-of-things is soon to take over the roads. Self-driving cars are expected to bring about as much of a paradigm shift as the telephone did decades ago. Yes, in 2018, our dependence on location is not very high. We can reach the other side of the world virtually in seconds. Despite this, our roads still hold structure to society.
What happens when drivers are abandoned?
For now, here are a few things we can be sure to expect. Autonomous vehicles will…
1. Improve transport congestion,
2. Reshape real estate value,
3. Reshape urbanisation (fewer people living in the inner city),
4. and increase mobility for the elderly and disabled.
What does empirical evidence suggest?
Researchers expect that by 2030 autonomous cars will roll out. We are all about bringing on technology that makes life easier. Let’s hope these autonomous vehicles can preserve balance in the environment too.
A recent report by the global consulting firm Bain & Co. predicts that technological advances such as the autonomous car will help to create a “post-urban economy” that will be more localized and home-based. By 2025, its analysts write, fewer people could live in urban cores than in exurbs, which it defines as “beyond the traditional commuting belt.”
Bill Gates’ proposed new city in Arizona, which will feature these new technologies, is located on the far fringes of the Phoenix area– to the predictable horror of ‘smart growth’ advocates.
Over time, the autonomous car could make even more revolutionary impacts on both the urban form and transit. Automated car proponents claim that the cost of operations will be considerably below that of today’s cars. If that should be achieved, the autonomous car could be used to provide door-to-door mobility not only for the elderly and disabled, but also for people who currently cannot afford their own cars. Under any circumstances, this innovation seems certain to further weaken conventional transit outside the cities with legacy cores. In the future, mass transit will be able to geographically refocus its resources on the most dense cores to provide better service, rather than spreading less dollars per square mile, and poorer service, everywhere.
There is considerable disagreement about how soon autonomous vehicles will become commonplace, but development activity is proceeding at a fast pace. There are currently 50 companies testing 387 autonomous vehicles in California alone, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
The sunniest optimists suggest that by 2030 the conversion to autonomous vehicles will be nearly complete. Other researchers predict the roll out of autonomous cars is going to proceed at a modest pace, with total sales in 2035 equaling only one-quarter of present world production.
Despite these disagreements about the pace of change, our way of life, both in cities and suburbs, is being radically transformed. What we need to do now is envision how to design the fully autonomous, low-carbon suburb so that water, air and natural landscapes can be preserved in ways better than we have been capable of in the past.