Cities are preparing for cars without a driver

Cities are preparing for cars without a driver

Connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) have the potential to cause significant changes in cities around the world , says a Siemens report. The Cities in the Driving Seat document emphasizes the need for cities to plan early and tackle the problem in the context of major changes in transport.

A survey presented at the World Forum of Cities 2018 in Singapore reveals the interrelations between urban development, urban transport, energy supply and pollution against the backdrop of the growing proportion of independent stand-alone vehicles. Lack of medium-term planning and deferred investment in infrastructure can cause negative social, economic and environmental effects, say the authors of the Global Competence Center for the City of Siemens.

"Autonomous vehicles must be part of a massive transformation of urban areas. Cities must ensure that they place people, not cars, in the center, or risk repeating mistakes from the past. The future of cities can be very different with the use of autonomous linked vehicles, and they can help shaping future trends in climate change, air cleanliness, public health and other "Commented Pete Doe, Director of Urban Development and Environment at the Global Competence Center for Cities.

The report"Cities behind the wheel - autonomous linked vehicles as part of the development of cities" offers information about opportunities and risks with which cities would encounter using CAV. The study includes opinions of experts, working on topics such as climate, health, accessibility, design and architecture. In addition, the report explains the most important benefits as well as the potential risks of autonomous vehicles. The document also looks at different use scenarios that show how the consequences can vary depending on how they are integrated.

The potential of CAV for significant changes is huge. The benefits of related autonomous vehicles include:

  • Providing first and last mile, which will strengthen the role of public transport;
  • Reduction of noise, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Reducing fatalities and injuries on the roads - The number of deaths in fatalities on a global scale is 1.25 million per year, with 90% of cases resulting from human error;
  • Greater access to transport for different social groups - young people, adults, people with disabilities, marginalized social groups;
  • Turning terrain used for parking or roads into green spaces, homes, schools, bicycles, etc.;
  • Increased efficiency and security through the automation and connectivity of vehicles with urban infrastructure

At the same time, CAV without clear policies and regulations can lead to negative consequences such as:

  • Continuing the negative effect on nature if it is not regulated that the CAV should be low or zero carbon;
  • The number of private cars owned does not decrease if people prefer their own autonomous vehicle instead of a shared transport system;
  • Unused CAVs can cause congestion and require unnecessary parking spaces;
  • Increase in mileage by car if people prefer to use CAV instead of walking, using a bicycle or public transport.

To maximize the benefits of automation and introduction of CAV, the Siemens report recommends taking into account the transformation in four areas: automation, electrification, digital connectivity and shared mobility. Isolated introduction of changes in transport can lead to adverse effects or reduce potential benefits.
The Siemens study defines 3 possible scenarios to show how the consequences can vary depending on the vision and policies that a city applies.

  • Scenario "Strong City"- shared mobility is becoming the norm, the number of private cars is decreasing, parking lots are used for schools, hospitals, new homes, and most vehicles are electric and powered by clean energy.
  • Scenario"No change" the future of mobility is not guided by a coherent vision or effective policies. The assumed revolution in automation and electrification of vehicles is not developing at a sufficiently rapid pace and the use of private vehicles remains leading. A small part of urban land is disposed of, a minimum of CAVs are electric.
  • Scenario" CAV as a luxury"- CAVs are extremely rare, private car ownership is standard, shared travel is a ninja concept, and the use of public transport is decreasing rapidly over time. Vehicles are used for individual trips and work with internal combustion engines that cause CO2 to emerge more than ever.