At the 2017 Autonomous Vehicle Symposium, a group of experts were asked to predict the effects of autonomous vehicles in two case study communities, and to generate a list of proposed policy actions to prepare for a future of autonomous vehicles.
A lot of writing and research on autonomous vehicles (AVs) has focused on technology and deployment (for example, this recent article that speculates about which automaker is better situated to develop AVs). Less attention has been directed at identifying and addressing potential secondary impacts, such as the consequences of AV deployment for urban design. Secondary implications could end up being the largest obstacles to the successful rollout of AVs—particularly with regard to the disruption, and direct backlash, the rollout will create. These secondary implications also highlight the importance of scenario and uncertainty planning that has been discussed in other Planetizen Autonomous Future posts.
In this context, the Transportation Research Board recent hosted an "Urbanism Next" workshop at the Autonomous Vehicles Symposium (AVS 2017), which the authors helped organize, to examine the potential impacts of AVs and the sharing economy on e-commerce, city form, design, and development. While AVS 2017 focused on AV technology (e.g., their operating systems and services) the Urbanism Next breakout session framed the technology as inextricably linked to e-commerce and sharing.
The interconnected, simultaneously emerging technologies of AVs, e-commerce, and sharing economies have the potential for major effects in cities and society at large. AVs are not simply a transportation issue. More precisely, they have the potential to affect land use, land valuation, development sprawl, social equity, labor, urban vitality, and more. As planners, designers, and policy makers, we need to understand these effects to minimize disruptions.
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