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

Lauren Isaac is the Director of Business Initiatives for the North American operation of EasyMile. Easymile provides electric, driverless shuttles that are designed to cover short distances in multi-use environments. Prior to working at EasyMile, Lauren worked at WSP where she was involved in various projects involving advanced technologies that can improve mobility in cities. Lauren wrote a guide titled “Driving Towards Driverless: A Guide for Government Agencies” regarding how local and regional governments should respond to autonomous vehicles in the short, medium, and long term. In addition, Lauren maintains the blog, “Driving Towards Driverless”, and has presented on this topic at more than 75 industry conferences. She recently did a TEDx Talk, and has been published in Forbes and the Chicago Tribune among other publications.
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