urban effects

Exploring the Urban Effects of Autonomous Vehicles

The prospect of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) represents a transformation in the way the world moves. CAVs will also be a significant disruptor to established practices across multiple industries. As potentially defining elements of integrated mobility systems in the cities of tomorrow, they are likely to have considerable influence on how we live, work, play, move, and interact. In IBI TH!NK’s first Pocket R&D project, I explored the potential gains and pains of this emerging technology for our cities. The full report on the urban effects of CAVs is available here, but a few key points are:

Safety: CAVs could eliminate or reduce the severity of 90% of traffic-related fatalities, but the transition period, when both CAVs and non-CAVs are on the road present challenges and could create more chaos, before it provides resolutions..

Transportation and land use efficiency: CAVs could improve public transportation services and decrease vehicle ownership by providing improved and more efficient on-demand transportation services in low-demand areas. However, enabling private CAV ownership could replace trips made by public transit and increase vehicle kilometres travelled as people tolerate longer commutes, live further from their workplace and travel more often.

Infrastructure and Transit Spending: On-demand CAVs could reduce the need for car ownership and promote other modes of transportation, but labour shortages may result in backlashes against job automation.

CAVs present impressive opportunities, but also real threats. The impacts will be felt beyond transportation and will affect the very way our cities are organized. Upon conclusions of this research project, I realized the real questions wasn’t so much about how will CAVs impact cities, but rather, how will we leverage CAVs to achieve the impacts we want? To learn more, check out our new video on the potential routes autonomous vehicles could follow. Will a driverless future be bleak or bright? That depends on how much we can learn from our past.

Alex Mereu

Alex is a Transportation Planner living in Toronto and working out of the Toronto main campus office. Alex is passionate about the future of cities and how innovative solutions can help us balance nature and progress as we strive for a more sustainable way of life.

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