What will the driverless car society look like?

I fully acknowledge that there is going to be a transition period – where our roads contain a mix of traditional driving vehicles and autonomous vehicles. Some day; however, I think our society could be entirely driverless. I believe there are two extremes for this vision:

Scenario #1: Everyone owns their own driverless car. This, of course, assumes that the technology becomes a lot less expensive (which is likely) and that people have not embraced the shared economy. This is possible since our society really values the driving experience and the status/image associated with owning an expensive car. This scenario could result in significant urban sprawl (since people will view their commutes differently) and congestion could actually worsen.

Scenario #2: Very few people (if anyone) owns their own driverless car. Transportation becomes a service that people pay for when they need it. The business model established by Uber and Lyft could be utilized for all private transportation. This scenario could result in a significant decrease in parking requirements and decreased congestion.

And, of course, there’s the potential (and likelihood) for a society that has a little of both. The extreme scenarios make the forecasting of impacts on our cities much simpler.

About Lauren Isaac

I am the Manager of Transportation Sustainability at Parsons Brinckerhoff. Recently, I won the William Barclay Parsons fellowship for my research proposal to study how the United States government should respond to driverless cars. As I'm working on my research, I thought this blog would help to disseminate my findings and provide a forum for feedback.
This entry was posted in Driverless Car Development, Driverless Car Future and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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