The sweeping changes mad possible with self-driving vehicles may extend well beyond commercial application and the influence this technology is expected to have on the transportation industry. From the largest commercial trucks to the smallest passenger cars, having growing numbers of self-driving vehicles on the road will have a major impact on urban planning and city design. Having to rethink urban development from the ground up may be the only way developers and planners will be able to keep pace with autonomous vehicles.
Congestion, Traffic and Parking
Traffic patterns are expected to undergo a rapid evolution thanks to vehicles that drive themselves and those that are able to operate without the need for human occupants. Certain routes, roads and areas may see a steep rise in the total volume of vehicles and traffic while other locations may experience a sudden drop off. Removing human drivers from the equation can also eliminate many of the most common and significant causes of traffic congestion. Even dedicated parking areas and structures may no longer serve a useful purpose as self-driving vehicles that have been stored off-site can easily routed to pick up passengers regardless of their proximity or surroundings.
Other Advances in Transportation Technology
Autonomous vehicles are not the only emerging technology that may serve to reshape urban environments. Other transportation technologies, such as emission-less vehicles, next-generation public transit systems and even aerial delivery drones may all have a role to play in shaping the ways cities are designed and built. Overcoming the limitations of existing city layouts and making the necessary changes and infrastructure upgrades needed to maximize the potential benefits made possible with self-driving vehicles is an important undertaking. Widespread access to more efficient and convenient transportation solutions is expected to make a big impact on the way tomorrow’s cities and urban areas are designed.