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Dangerous Expectations: AV leadership

There is a big problem with the expectation that the automotive industry will shift us toward on-demand mobility. Read this article to find out more.

There is a critical problem with the expectation that the current automotive industry will somehow shift us toward on-demand mobility.

These industries cannot lead the transformation from privately owned vehicles (Market 1) to shared taxis and shuttles complemented by active and public transportation modes (Market 2).

The reason is that they cannot afford to do so.

And too few of their customers are interested or motivated.

Only planners and regulators can lead this innovation. And that can only be done by city building that incorporates community zoning, development, and transportation services that are specifically geared to have a majority of people living in those communities be able do so without owning personal vehicles.

A trillion YouTube videos promoting the arrival of robotic taxis and shuttles will not be enough to move the needle if very few of us can live in a place — and in a way — in which we are personally better off, mobility-wise, without owning a personal vehicle.

Such places are vanishingly few in North America, and even in Europe.

Essentially, today’s consumers of personally-owned vehicles need to be able to find affordable ways to live — and live contentedly — in ownership-free communities…

… and that is very hard to come by in most developed countries.

For example, this is not effectively available in my city of Toronto.

While I live in a car-free household, I am surrounded by endless streets of parked cars in every direction.

The natural and appropriate behaviour of established auto makers makes a shift to Market 2 dominance very difficult.

These auto makers, Tesla included, have no choice but to use all of these new automation technologies in order to survive the multiple decades of change needed to shift from Market 1 to Market 2 dominance.

Survival implies profit, profit implies sales, sales imply vehicles that consumers buy.

The greatest enemy of the driverless taxi is the partially automated family car, but the innovation pathway to the driverless vehicle runs directly through the partially automated vehicle, and that is our conundrum.

Partial automation is our only pathway to learn and finance full automation.

At the same time partial automation is the planner’s greatest enemy with respect to congestion, density, and community liveability.

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Planning for Autonomous Vehicles: A People-Centred Approach

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