Autonomous vehicles (AVs) have had a less than rosy few months recently. Strings of fender benders and stories like the fatal Uber crash in Arizona this March, have only hardened some people’s reluctance towards AVs. But despite any setbacks in the public perception (or lack of confidence in the first place), it’s widely agreed by experts that AV-dominated roads are inevitable and destined to be safer. The timeline for a major rollout remains vague at best, but we do know that even a small percentage of properly functioning AVs on the road can greatly improve traffic. So what about when they go mainstream? When AVs are more common than not, we can expect them to reshape our lives in ways that go well beyond easing gridlock.
Here are few:
Retreat to the Suburbs
A major draw of city-living is the wealth of employment opportunities. But if it weren’t for the stress and unpredictability of long commutes, plenty of city dwellers may opt for the suburbs instead. Enter AVs. When you can sleep, read, or meditate in the car the thought of a commute becomes a lot less daunting. It’ll actually carve out some precious “me-time” for commuters to enjoy each day.
Reduced Car Ownership
For those out in the suburbs or country, hanging onto a personal vehicle will be a practical choice. But for people living and working in the city, the thought of having a car available at a moment’s notice without the costs of ownership has major appeal. Plus riders will shuck the hunt for parking that often lasts longer than the drive itself. Predictions for the driverless future point to an influx of ridesharing services and the creation of subscription-based car rentals.
Pedestrians Reclaim Urban Areas
Cars have taken priority in urban planning for most of the last century. But with the promise of AVs’ superior maneuvering, we’ll likely see streets narrowed to accommodate more pedestrians and bicyclists. Plus with the increase in ridesharing, cars will spend more time driving than parked. Garages and street parking spaces could then be transformed into shops or recreation areas for pedestrians. Some cities are already planning for this transition in their architecture.
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– Jake Ritzheimer
TrafficCast International, East Coast Operations