Autonomous vehicles are the “talk of the town” in the tech industry nowadays – especially with the upcoming privatisation of Tesla – and not always necessarily for the right reasons. Lack of clear strategy and plans, without a clear image of the pathway ahead, accidents on a somewhat regular basis and consumer confidence declining daily one could say the industry is taking a hard-hit before it even manages to stand on its feet.
Looking at the picture pragmatically and from a somewhat more distanced approach this was all anticipated. Most -if not all- major power players in the industry such as Uber, Waymo, Tesla and Ford were already aware of most of these difficulties either via prior experience of introducing a new technology to the market or their overall knowledge of their consumers.
Cities are rapidly changing and becoming the focus for mobility innovation – and rightly so. Mobility is a key indicator and motivator of what makes a city liveable and an attractive place to visit. Mobility enables the movement of goods and people as well as ideas, social interactions and resources hence making it fundamental to any city. It is a well known fact that today’s megacities and “polis” already face enormous mobility and transport issues whether they are congestion or other problems… and with populations only rising year on year globally the solution by most is recognised to be moving into smarter rather than more congested cities.
The challenges in keeping our current infrastructure and systems is simply not sustainable as can be seen in the image below created by Aptiv.
There are indeed numerous steps that need to be followed and actions taken in order to ensure our cities continue to remain liveable: providing financial support for research, enabling cities to come up with innovative solutions, offering government support on a financial and regulatory level and embracing new technologies that are helping to evolve concepts of mobility. Autonomous vehicles can play a key role in addressing current challenges to develop smarter and safer cities only if all players (including consumers been educated) work together.
Many scientific and other studies have clearly demonstrated that autonomous technologies can cut urban travel time by a third and reduce greenhouse emissions by two thirds whilst also helping with the growing need for parking spaces which could also be reduced significantly by more than 40%.
Whilst autonomous vehicles might still seem like a world away, the reality is (As examined in previous blogs here) autonomous vehicle technology is already being used in many an industry such as farming, freight, taxi services and transport. It is hence about time we start focusing on allowing and embracing new research and technologies that will not only enable us to be transported safely but also improve our cities inner structures and connectivity.
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