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News Roundup: India Says ‘No’ to Self-Driving Cars, Two Companies Plan Cross-Border Road Test for Driverless Cars, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A roundup of recent headlines to come out of the driverless and connected-car industries this past week:

India says No to driverless cars over fear of job losses

India’s transport minister, Nitin Gadkari, told news outlets this past week that driverless cars will not be allowed in India anytime soon, due to the number of job losses it could lead to. Gadkari said India’s unemployment rate is still too high to risk losing jobs to automated vehicles. As it is currently, he said the country is in need of at least 100,000 more commercial drivers and he looks forward to being able to provide the Indian people with so many available jobs. In addition, India officials estimate that the amount of infrastructure changes that would be needed to prepare India for self-driving cars would be far too expensive given the nation’s current economy. Gadkari did say he would not rule out the technology altogether in the future if India’s situation improves. Read more from BBC News.

 

Manhattan proposal wants to transform cross-island highways into roads exclusively for driverless vehicles

Manhattan-based architecture firm Edg has proposed a bold project that they say would reduce urban pollution and congestion in Manhattan and make some major roadways on the island exclusive to driverless cars. The proposal, called “Loop NYC,” wants to take major roadways that cut across the island–namely, 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 86th and 110th streets–and turn them into roads that are exclusive to driverless cars. Edg says this could cut down traffic time from the current 40 minutes it takes to drive a loop from Grand Central Station to Lower Manhattan and back down to just 11 minutes, with traffic flowing more smoothly thanks to self-driving vehicles. In addition, Loop NYC wants to create enormous green spaces and pedestrian bridges that would cross over the driverless roadways and would be exclusive to pedestrians and bicyclists, improving beauty while reducing pollution, as well as increasing the city’s walkability. As expected, the proposal is still “largely speculative” in nature, particularly given the fact that the federal government still has not approved a nationwide set of laws and regulations for driverless cars. Read more about Loop NYC on ArchDaily.

 

Two companies plan road test for driverless cars across the border from the U.S. into Canada

Two major companies working on driverless vehicle technology, Continental and Magna, are teaming up for a whopper of a road test. The two companies plan to send self-driving cars across the border from Michigan into Sarnia, in Toronto, Canada. The cars will reportedly cross the border at two locations–through the tunnel from Detroit into Windsor, and crossing the Blue Water Bridge into Sarnia. Reps say the cars’ “driverless mode” will be enabled whenever possible but will likely include a few instances when the driver will take over control. They add, crossing an international border makes for incredibly unique driving conditions, which will allow Continental and Magna to collect a lot of valuable data from the cars’ cameras, LiDAR and radar. In addition, the test will reveal future hurdles when it comes to crossing the borders of two different countries with two different sets of laws and regulations. Read more from TechCrunch.

Image: Loop NYC rendering by Edg

News Roundup: Mass. State Senator Introduces Bill to Allow Zero-Emission Driverless Cars, Skipping Driverless Cars and Going Straight to Passenger Drones, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A roundup of headlines to come out of the driverless, connected-car industry in the past week:

Massachusetts Introduces Bill to Self-Driving Cars on Public Streets — As Long As They’re Electric

A new bill has been introduced at the state level in Massachusetts that would provide regulations for autonomous cars on public streets–as long as they’re electric. Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) is preparing to file the bill with the State Senate, and says mandating that self-driving cars be zero-emission will help encourage automakers to be more environmentally friendly, which is line with Massachusetts’s priorities. Lewis said the bill would come with a tax of 2.5 cents per mile, to help offset lost state revenue from gas taxes. He said he welcomes ideas and suggestions and hopes the bill’s introduction will prompt “robust debate.” Read more from The Valley Dispatch.

 

Op-Ed: Forget Driverless Cars — The Future is Driverless Passenger Drones

Check out this opinion piece from Adam Singola. Singola argues almost suggests that simply making cars driverless is a waste of time, when we can take it one step further and make them flying, too. Singola said the future of transportation is flying passenger drones. He points out that one thing that makes human-driven cars so dangerous is the fact that they have to share the road with passengers, cyclists, unexpected objects and poor road quality, not to mention other cars. Therefore, he says driverless passenger drones will be safer, and will render things like parking problems, traffic congestion, and road construction obsolete. He also describes a ride he recently took in an actual passenger drone. Read more on TechCrunch.

 

U.S. Department of Transportation Identifies 10 ‘Proving Grounds’ for Testing Autonomous Vehicle Technology

In a move that many say will help the U.S. keep up with its Asian and European rivals, the U.S. Department of Transportation this week officially designated 10 sites across the country that officials say will act as “official sites for validating the technology,” as run by top organizations working on the technology. Automakers will be able to share the facilities to test their autonomous prototypes, and officials said they hope working in “close proximity” to others working on the same technology will allow them to share best practices and data. The 10 sites are run by the following organizations across the country: Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute; the Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership; Maryland’s U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center; California’s Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and GoMentum Station in Concord, California; the San Diego Association of Governments in California; Michigan’s American Center for Mobility (ACM) at Willow Run; the Iowa City Area Development Group; the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners; and the North Carolina Turnpike Authority. Read more from Bloomberg Technology.

Photo: Acura driverless car being tested at GoMentum Station in Concord, California.

News Roundup: Bentley Tests On-Demand Gas Fill-Up, Fly-Mode Wins With 3-D Printed Car and Drone Package, and More

A roundup of interesting headlines from around the driverless and connected-car world:

Bentley teams up to introduce on-demand gasoline fill-up service

Imagine your head is hitting the pillow one night, and you’re running through all the myriad errands you’re going to need to make in your car the next day. And then you remember, your gas tank is on empty. Well, if you lived in California and you owned a Bentley, that wouldn’t be a problem. It’s true, Bentley is teaming up with tech startup Filld to test out on-demand fuel delivery in California. With Bentley’s connected-car system, on-demand fuel is available 24/7, without even needing to hand over your keys. A technician will show up and refuel your car through the gas port, and a bill will be sent to your home. So, you could wake up the next morning to a full tank of gas, your car ready to hit the road. Pretty cool! Read more about this from AutoEvolution.

Check out this 3-D printed autonomous vehicle that features a scout drone

Imagine traveling with your car through gridlock traffic (not hard, I know). But then imagine you could send out your car’s drone to fly high overhead and scout out the best route to get around the traffic and get you to your destination faster. That could become a reality soon, thanks to Fly-Mode, a team of inventors that recently won the Essence of Autonomy Challenge, hosted by Local Motors and Mouser Electronics and judged by MythBusters star Grant Imahara.  The quad-motor drone has a landing pad on the rear of the vehicle, and occupants can use a joystick to control the drone, sending it up in the air to scout out surroundings, which Imahara says makes one feel as though they are in a flying vehicle, up in the air along with the drone. The drone’s images are sent to a projection screen inside the vehicle that can be inflated and deflated as needed. Read more about Fly-Mode from Popular Science.

Google inches closer to public release of self-driving cars, hits 2 million miles on public roads

Few companies have invested nearly as much time or money in the development of self-driving cars as Google’s Alphabet Inc. Recently, the company hit 2 million miles of driving on public roads. And in fact, it only took a little more than one year to go from 1 million to 2 million, as the fleet now consists of more than 60 self-driving test vehicles in four states. As news outlets report on the new benchmark, a reporter with Verge describes his recent ride in a Google self-driving car, including how he was a passenger while the car completed an obstacle course that had the vehicle dodge pedestrians, slam on the brakes as other cars cut in front, and navigate cyclists. Read more from Verge.

Automated Driving Tech Could End Rise in Road Deaths

Burney Simpson

Deaths in traffic accidents are on the rise but these fatalities could be reduced if automated technology were installed in passenger vehicles.

That’s the conclusion after reading the major findings in two recent reports –

  • Road deaths rose about 8 percent in 2015;
  • Adding three types of currently-available automated technology to passenger cars could reduce accidents by about 25 percent.

Starting with bullet two, a study from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) found that the installation of blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning systems could stop or make less severe 1.3 million crashes a year.

Those crashes cause 10,000 fatalities and 133,000 injuries annually, the researchers report.

It would cost about $600 per light-duty vehicle to install the technology, according to “Cost and benefit estimates of partially-automated vehicle collision avoidance technologies” by Corey D. Harper, Chris T. Hendrickson, and Constantine Samaras. The three are with CMU’s Civil and Environmental Engineering department.

It would cost about $13 billion to install this technology in all light-duty vehicles in the U.S. but this investment would bring an $18 billion benefit in the first year alone.

TRAFFIC FATALITIES RISING

The CMU study comes just as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 2015 traffic fatalities rose nearly 8 percent from 2014 following decades of decline.

An estimated 35,200 people died in traffic accidents in 2015, while total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) rose 3.5 percent to 107.2 billion miles, according to NHTSA.

The fatality rate per 100 million VMT last year rose to 1.12, up from 1.08 in 2014.

Those who weren’t even in passenger vehicles saw “significant increases” in deaths from traffic accidents, NHTSA found.

For instance, traffic fatalities rose 13 percent for bicyclists, 10 percent for pedestrians and 9 percent for motorcyclists last year, while fatalities of drivers and passengers rose by 6 percent and 7 percent respectively.

The 2015 findings remain estimates. An annual statistical report will be released later this year.

The numbers for last year run counter to long-term trends. From 1973 to 2013 crash fatalities dropped about 40 percent due to the use of seat belts, the installation of air bags, education campaigns on the dangers of drunk driving, and greater police enforcement.

However, these improvements have largely stayed the same since 2009 (See “Road Safety Hits a Plateau: Fed Traffic Stats“).

Photo: Flipped car at 22nd and Hawthorne by Aaron Parecki, 2010.

Silicon Valley Takes On Smart Mobility

Burney Simpson

Silicon Valley is in the middle of changing the way workers get to work. Then again, maybe not.

The Smart Mobility office of Joint Venture Silicon Valley (JVSV) seeks to implement several new transportation systems that will get people out of their cars, use public transit and bikes, and spew fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

This massive change relies in part on new technology developed by the growing autonomous driving industry.

The problem is that the Smart Mobility group doesn’t have the authority to force commuters to change. Further, the new technology is still being tested or has yet to find a large group of users to make it commercially viable.

SERIOUS TRAFFIC ISSUES

Instead, Smart Mobility must rely on employers and staff to make the effort to get off their butts and make a difference. Employers have to see savings, or even revenue generation, while employees must be rewarded in some way.

No doubt the Bay Area has some serious traffic issues.

Congestion around San Francisco is ranked by Inrix as second worst in the nation, behind only Los Angeles and tied with Washington, D.C. San Francisco commuters wasted 75 hours sitting in traffic in 2015.

Steve Raney, executive director of the mobility group, believes that the best way to cut congestion and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions is to reduce Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) travel from 75 percent of travel in the Bay to 50 percent of travel.

Moovel2

Image by ridetap.io.

That would mean cutting 1 million car trips a day from the current 3 million. If that happened it would eliminate 1.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, according to a white paper from the mobility group.

Raney points to work done with Stanford University as one path to cutting SOV commutes.

Stanford began by charging its SOV commuters $3 a day to park at the school, a benefit it had previously offered for free. It then ‘feebated’ that revenue to its commuters that walked, biked, took a shuttle bus, used the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority (VTA), or CalTrans, or the ride.com on-demand rideshare.

(A feebate is a system of charges and rebates designed to reward or penalize energy-efficient practices.)

As a result, Stanford reduced its SOV numbers from 75 percent of commutes to 49 percent, according to Raney. The school then saved the $107 million it had planned to spend on new parking facilities, he says.

In essence, Stanford replaced free parking with a shared travel benefit.

“Free parking for employees is a tradition,” says Raney. “(Employers) can phase in a charge of $3 for driving alone, or make it free to bike or walk. Just shift the dollar around for vehicles.”

The feebate concept was the most viable way to implement change when compared to such proposals as increasing the gas tax or imposing road user charges or implementing workplace parking charges, according to Raney’s research.

Feebates is just one aspect of the ‘Reducing Bay Area Commuting by 25%’ white paper from the JVSV mobility group.

smartMobility2

Its Fair Value Commuting solution includes another four components, much of it relying on new technology associated with the developing autonomous driving industry:

  • The Enterprise Commute Trip Reduction (ECTR) is software from such firms as Luum and RideAmigos that allow employers to track staff commutes, and offer commute incents/de-cents.
  • Mobility Aggregation (MobAg) apps track and display multiple travel options – public/private transit, rideshare, carshare, bikeshare, van pool, etc. Vendors include Moovit, Transit App, Urban Engines, TripGo, Swiftly, Moovel, and Siemens. (In a perfect world, MobAg apps will also offer payment capabilities and update the ECTR so the employer can track employee activity).
  • Gap Filling is a catchall term for more transportation options and payment ideas, with a focus on first mile/last mile challenges. Gap fillers can range from low-income transit subsidies to Lyft/Uber peer-to-peer rideshare, escooters, public microtransit (VTA Flex3), private microtransit (Bridj, Chariot), private motorcoach (RidePal), telecommuting, and autonomous microtransit (EasyMile).
  • Systemic Obstacles refers to developing uniform payment systems and integrated routes by multiple transit agencies; developing an interoperable mobility software system.

The white paper concedes that much of this infrastructure is not in place. The MobAg apps are still gestating, the ECTR software needs to add features, and the public is catching up with all the gapfillers.

For example, payment apps do not allow for interoperability between the two dozen transit systems in the Bay area alone.

The Daimler purchase of smartphone e-ticketing firm Globe Sherpa might address this when its capabilities are combined with Daimler-owned RideScout. Still, this is a work in progress.

FEBATE FIGHTBACK

And even the feebate concept gets pushback despite its proven benefits. One Joint Venture collaborator notes that many employers don’t do feebates even when it may be in their best interest.

Raney is moving forward, saying that in September he will get an answer on four grant proposals that would allow him to expand his research and membership.

Meanwhile, he has drafted a proposal for the California legislature that would put a cap on free parking benefits an employer could provide to staff that commute in Single Occupancy Vehicles. The employer starts paying a fee when the percent of its SOV commuters tops a defined threshold.

America’s SOV mode of commuting once sold cars and built the wide-open freeways that took us to suburbia. Today it means congested highways filled with greenhouse gas delivery devices. It could take decades for the nation to break its SOV habit.

 

Photo by Coolcaeser.

Columbus, Ohio Wins $50 Million Prize in U.S. DOT’s Smart City Challenge

Jennifer van der Kleut

News broke this week that the city of Columbus, Ohio has beaten six other cities to win the $50-million prize in the Smart City Challenge.

Cities from across the country were invited earlier this year to pitch their intelligent-transportation project ideas to compete for $50 million in funding. Recently, the seven cities of Columbus, Ohio; Austin, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Kansas City, Missouri; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon were named the seven finalists, and were invited to Washington, D.C. to formally pitch their project ideas to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on June 3.

For the prize, $40 million in funding is coming from the USDOT, as well as $10 million from a private grant from the company Vulcan, explained the website ColumbusCEO.com.

In addition, the public-private partnerships Columbus formed to help them win the bid will be investing another $90 million in grants for the project, bringing the total funding to $140 million.

Partnership members including Battelle, AEP, Ohio State University, Nationwide, Honda, L Brands, Cardinal Health and others, according to ColumbusCEO, many of which were brought to the table by Columbus’ new mayor, Andrew Ginther.

Columbus’ winning idea consisted of a plan to “link neighborhoods and improve mobility for residents while encouraging additional growth, and to provide an environment for new and existing technology companies to locate in the city,” reported the website Transport Topics.

To be more specific, ColumbusCEO.com described the project as a plan to “use the opportunity to connect workers in high poverty neighborhoods with jobs, improve access to education and prenatal care, and reduce traffic congestion.”

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio confirmed Columbus’ win this week, and said he and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx were impressed by how many companies and CEOs the city was able to bring to the table to collaborate for their innovative project.

“Mayor Ginther and the city’s partners demonstrated a commitment to smart growth that makes the city better for all residents. And that’s why I worked so hard to support Columbus’s efforts,” Brown said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with local leaders and community members to realize the vision of a first-of-its-kind transportation system that increases access to jobs, links neighborhoods, and improves real-time information in a sustainable, safe way.”

An additional prize coming to Columbus is $1.5 million worth of electric vehicle chargers and mobile solar generators donated by DC Solar Solutions, the largest manufacturer of mobile solar technology in the country, Transport Topics indicated.

A press conference is expected to take place sometime on Thursday, June 23 in Linden, one of the Columbus neighborhoods that will benefit from the project.

U.K. Government: Driverless Cars Will Be Liable For Crashes, Not Drivers

Jennifer van der Kleut

One week after the Queen of England’s speech, in which she said new legislation will propel Britain to the forefront of driverless technology, roads minister Andrew Jones gave his own speech, outlining how liability for accidents in driverless cars will work.

In a nutshell, Jones said, the driverless cars themselves will be held responsible for crashes, not the humans who ride in them, v3 news website reports.

Jones explained that the U.K. government believes that cars will be fully autonomous with four years, with no need for human drivers or passengers to need to intervene at all. Therefore, there would be nothing for them to be held liable for.

“The government believes that within four years it will be possible to buy cars that, under supervision, park on their own and pilot themselves on motorways. Eventually, there will be virtually nothing left for the motorist to do,” v3 quoted Jones.

Naturally, Jones says this will completely transform how insurance works.

“Compulsory motor insurance will be retained, but it will be extended to cover product liability so that when a motorist has handed control to their vehicle, they can be reassured that their insurance will be there if anything goes wrong,” he said. “Where the vehicle is at fault the insurer will be able to seek reimbursement from the manufacturer.”

The Queen’s Speech outlined a new Modern Transport Bill, which aims to remove legislative red tape delaying the debut of driverless vehicles in Britain. The Queen said measures in the Modern Transport Bill would “ensure the U.K. is at the forefront of technology for new forms of transport, including autonomous and electric vehicles.”

Many experts say keeping Britain at the forefront will also be a boon for the nation’s economy. Paul Wilcox, Nissan’s European chief, says it could be a 900-billion-pound global industry by 2025, with Britain nabbing a big piece of that pie.

“Autonomously-equipped vehicles will [also] improve the safety and well-being of drivers, with fewer collisions and reduced traffic congestion,” he told The Telegraph.

Nvidia Video of Self-Driving Car in Rain, Country Lanes

Burney Simpson

A new video from Nvidia researchers offers an extended view of an autonomous car driving on public roads in New Jersey, managing rain, an unmarked road, and other challenges.

Nearly all of the 14-minute video presents the point of view of a car observing the autonomous vehicle. There are a few minutes showing the autonomous car’s view as it travels a rolling country road.

The researchers used an Nvidia DevBox and Torch 7 for training and an Nvidia Drive PX self-driving car using a Torch 7. The system operates at 30 frames per second.

The video appears to have been shot around Holmdel, N.J., where Nvidia opened an office in February in what had been a Bell Labs site.

It’s not clear if it is legal to operate a self-driving vehicle on a public road in New Jersey. The state legislature has been considering proposals on the technology since 2012 but has yet to pass anything.

Much of the video shows the autonomous vehicle in a business park, and in what appears to be a blocked off parking lot.

A link to the video was included as part of a paper “End to End Learning for Self-Driving Cars” from 13 Nvidia researchers based in Holmdel.

The paper’s abstract reports the researchers “trained a convolutional Neural Network (CNN) to map raw pixels from a single-front-facing camera directly to steering commands.”

This system soon learned to drive on local roads “with and without lane markings,” on highways, and on unpaved roads, the researchers report.

The researchers says their system automatically learns how to detect road features with minimal human intervention.

They conclude that their system will bring better performance and smaller systems because “the internal components self-optimize to maximize overall system performance, instead of optimizing human-selected intermediate criteria, e.g., lane detection. Such criteria understandably are selected for ease of human interpretation which doesn’t automatically guarantee maximum system performance.

“Smaller networks are possible because the system learns to solve the problem with the minimal number of processing steps.”

Nissan, Savari Conduct Live V2X Test in Sunnyvale

Burney Simpson

Nissan North America and Savari have joined to operate a 4.6 square mile, real-world Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communications testbed with three intersections in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The testbed is using the Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) 5.8 GHz band for transmitting data between moving vehicles and fixed wireless infrastructure. The Federal Communications Commission set aside 75 MHz of the band for intelligent transportation systems.

Savari’s StreetWave road-side-units are deployed on Sunnyvale traffic poles and other infrastructure, while its MobiWave line of on-board-units are installed in vehicles.

The V2X technology is integrated with traffic controllers, allowing for communication between traffic signals and moving vehicles. The messaging is designed to tell drivers about upcoming congestion, traffic conditions, weather-related issues, and other roadway events.

The test began last August and is ongoing.

Savari and Nissan, which operates its Silicon Valley Research Center in Sunnyvale, are working on the project with the city and the University of California Berkeley Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH).

PATH deployed the StreetWave technology and coordinated the project with Sunnyvale and Nissan.

Nissan Research Director Dr. Maarten Sierhuis said the auto OEM is studying “how V2X technology can be used as additional sensor data by the autonomous system.”

Nissan is also reviewing how a “connected infrastructure and (artificial intelligence) can be used to optimize both route planning for an autonomous vehicle and traffic flow along the way,” Sierhuis said in a release.

Sunnyvale seeks to find if V2X communications can reduce congestion, cut fuel use, and improve safety. Its transportation department is using data from the test to prepare its traffic light intersections for fully autonomous vehicles.

Savari’s V2X deployments cover more than 130 public square miles of roadways, and its on-board-units have traveled nearly 1.5 million miles.

Nissan’s Silicon Valley Research Center focuses on vehicle intelligence technologies in autonomous and connected cars.

Cities Should Start Testing Autonomous Transit: Planner

Burney Simpson

Cities should begin testing Level 5 autonomous vehicles now in last mile/first mile transit applications to stay ahead of the coming changes brought by driverless technology, according to Grush Niles Associates, a transportation planning consultant.

Implementing Level 5 transit on an incremental, application-by-application basis will help it to expand and spread as demand grows, the consultants write in “Getting Past the Hype” in the new Thinking Highways, North America.

Level 5 vehicles, defined as fully autonomous and capable of operating without a driver, have been successfully used in several cities in Europe during the CityMobil2 project. Cities include La Rochelle, France; Lausanne, Switzerland; near Helsinki, Finland; and Trikala, Greece.

The providers include EasyMile, Navya, RoboSoft, and 2getthere. Specs vary but a typical vehicle is electric-powered, has a range of 50 miles, and can carry 12 passengers. They have onboard navigation systems and obstacle detection systems, and are monitored from a control room.

EasyMile is scheduled to begin operations at a business park this year in California (“Driverless Shuttle Gives Momentum to GoMentum Station“).

“These vehicles run in controlled loops through residential areas to a work area,” says Bern Grush. “Level 5 (vehicles) are here for constrained, simple transit.”

TRANSIT LEAP

Transit Leap approach from Grush Niles Associates.

Grush calls his approach Transit Leap, where “public-use, robotic, shared-mobility applications” will encourage consumers to shift to transit and away from single-owner cars.

His goal is a transportation system where 40 percent of trips are done on public transit, 40 percent are provided by a private transit owner (Uber, for example), and 20 percent in a privately-owned car.

In comparison, today about 90 percent of trips are done in a privately-owned car, with the remaining 10 percent delivered either by public transit or a private transit provider like Uber or a cab company, says Grush.

Grush’s goal contrasts with the concept seen in the futuristic driverless cars showcased by Mercedes and Volvo at events like CES 2016. These still have a steering wheel and play on the desire by many consumers to own a car, he says.

“If they have a steering wheel, it’s designed to be a (consumer) vehicle,” said Grush. “If not, then it’s transit.”

The future vehicles from the auto OEMs generally have an autonomous technology of Level 3, or conditional automation. Drivers must take the wheel on congested, complicated city roads but the car will run on its own for highway driving.

These vehicles, possibly widely available by 2025, encourage the owner to live further from work, says Grush. That will lead to more car ownership, more congestion, and increased public demand for more large highways.

That’s not the way to go, as Grush Niles explains on its End of Driving website:

“(T)here is a risk to municipalities and their populations to be overwhelmed by a new wave of private, low-occupancy automobile dominance that collectively detracts from community livability, adds to sprawl, increases infrastructure costs, and degrades the environment.”

HYPE CYCLE

While the move to autonomous vehicles seems inevitable, municipal planners still have some time to experiment with the concept. That is, if technology consultant Gartner is right with its Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle.

Last July Gartner put autonomous vehicles at the very top of its Peak of Inflated Expectations in the Hype Cycle. That was when one expert after another said the technology would end hunger, bring peace, and reunite the Ramones.

emerging-tech-hc (2)The next step in the Hype Cycle is for driverless to enter the Trough of Disillusionment, possibly after an accident or cybersecurity breach that shows its fallibility.

However, the technology will comeback, and go on to reach a Plateau of Productivity when it is working efficiently and is widely accepted.

That’s why planners should begin testing CityMobil2-style vehicles now to work out the bugs, says Grush.

“Municipalities need the experience. This is still a few years away,” says Grush. “The Trough gives us the opportunity.”

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