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Urban Mobility Redefined

Self-Driving Cars Will be Hired, Not Owned

March 26, 2017, Tuomo Kuosa

Owning an autonomous vehicle makes little or no sense in the future unless you run a taxi or delivery service. Self-driving cars will be constantly available all around our cities. They run without cease and only stop for recharging or servicing. People may own vehicles for some off-purposes, but the roles of owned vehicles will be much alike those of horses today.

According to existing plans, our future taxi traffic is based on constantly operating autonomous vehicles that only stop for a longer period of time for recharging or servicing. Currently our cars stand still 96 % of the time. In the future, parking spaces are not needed on city streets, in parking houses, or at our homes.

Nearly all major car manufacturers aim to become future market leaders in autonomous cars. For example, BMW, and Ford have announced they will bring the first fully autonomous shared vehicles (or taxis) to the market by the year 2021. To reach that goal, BMW has teamed up with Intel and Mobileye, and Ford has doubled its personnel in its Silicon Valley R&D team.

These transformations of mobility have several consequences. Car ownership and driving-as-a-job are becoming rarer. Self-driving cars require hardly any parking space so they save vast amounts of urban space. This should already be considered in zoning, urban planning, architecture, etc. Some of our current parking spaces will turn into stops where we get on and off the autonomous vehicles. Perhaps traffic jams on the highway are replaced with queues in these intersections between pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

In the future, road traffic will also be extremely safe due to autonomous vehicles. At the same time the need to repair and service cars will radically decrease. Today, traffic costs an estimated 1.3 million lives in the world every year. Nearly all of these accidents are caused by human error or, for example, driving under the influence.

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