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Are autonomous vehicles a game changer?

Are autonomous vehicles a ‘game changer’'? Read this article on how the driveless vehicle will impact land use.
Young woman smiling working on laptop sitting in driver seat of car with beige interior and trees in background sunlight
© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility

Policy makers and the general public are eagerly anticipating the development and commercialisation of driverless vehicles.

The widespread adoption of driverless vehicles may shift many parameters of transport in cities and regions, including:

  • the need for parking spaces
  • the overall size of the vehicle fleet
  • the accessibility of private transport for people with disabilities.

Driverless vehicles and active travel

In this article, the authors explore the potential risks of the widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles for cities.

They highlight the importance of restrictions on autonomous vehicle access within cities, suggesting that without restrictions, autonomous vehicles could lead to:

  • a decline in walking and cycling
  • increased economic, social, and environmental costs.

Do you agree with the concerns of the authors? What measures do you believe public authorities need to take to mitigate these adverse effects?

Game changer technology

Image by iLexx via Envato Elements.

Some commentators suggest that autonomous vehicles represent a ‘game changer’ technology with the potential to alter the land use-transport interplay as profoundly as the invention of railways in the 19th century, ushering in the age of the Transit City or the proliferation of cars in the 20th century, ushering in the age of the Automobile City (see Step 2.2).

The author of the following Conversation article disagrees, highlighting challenges in introducing these technologies at scale in urban areas, the safety standards and the uncertain timeline for their wide deployment.

While driverless cars are seen as the future, concerns remain about:

  • their feasibility
  • potential impacts on congestion
  • the need for demonstrable benefits to justify the costs.

The author suggests that while these innovations may improve the quality of journeys, they are unlikely to fundamentally transform travel patterns or significantly increase travel speed.

Your task

What is your stance in this debate? Prepare a brief statement, post it in the comments and take some time to read and comment on the contributions of others. Do you think there is a specific role for the property industry to respond to the spatial or operational needs of driverless vehicles?

© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility
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Urban dynamics: Spatial Accessibility and Real estate

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