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Big changes to cities coming with driverless cars

The Australia and New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI) has released two key thought-leadership papers on parking and transport planning opportunities from driverless vehicle technology.

Rita Excell, Executive Director from ADVI said the transformational change predicted to come with the introduction of driverless vehicles would impact the lives every Australian, and transform city designs in the years ahead.

Excell said the introduction of driverless vehicles is approaching rapidly and would ultimately underpin the creation of entirely new city structure and architecture, making it critical to recognise this disruptive technology as a central element in future transport planning.

“Because most vehicles typically sit idle for 96% of the time it creates a lot of wasted parking spaces in the city, streets and homes. We can expect multi-storey carparks being transformed into community spaces, on-street parking becoming a walk or cycle lane, and home garages being used as green space or extra living area instead,” Excell said.

“Instead of annual insurance, registration and running costs, people will be able to book a vehicle to pick them up and take them to a specific location – which means they will still have the convenience of an on-call car, without ongoing costs and parking challenges,” she said.

“We are already seeing an increasing number of people preferring mobility-as-a-service, which has seen the likes of Go Get and Car Next Door responding to commuter need for an alternative to owning your own vehicle. While the demand for mass public transit will continue, driverless vehicles offer significant cost advantages over public transport, especially for first and last mile services.”

“Vehicles that valet park by themselves is the likely next step, where the driver leaves the vehicle to park itself using a map of a parking structure and external vehicle sensors to find a parking space, and then is summoned by a driver to be picked-up. Already today the technology that allows a driver to get out of the car and let the car drive into a space means that we don’t need as wide a space and with vehicles parking themselves more efficiently, and safely, parking-related crashes will become a thing of the past.”

Future city planners won’t have to accommodate for large traffic volumes, as we see driverless vehicles migrate to the outskirts of city precincts and suburban parking stations when not in use,” Excell said.

“The major challenge facing urban and regional transport planners is that they normally rely on age-old quantitative data sets to inform future infrastructure investment, but that fails to recognise disruptive technologies like driverless vehicles,” she said.

“What is needed is an integrated process that embraces a much larger view of mobility, and considers the changing transport options of users. A growing number of Australians are opting to not have a licence, and as we see a decline in car ownership, transport planners can learn from many other countries that have already embraced the Mobility as a Service concept as a step towards incorporating driverless vehicles into the transport mix.”

The ADVI stand at the CeBIT event will allow delegates to view a state-of-the art driverless mobility pod from the UK-based RDM Group, as well as a Volvo fitted with autonomous vehicle technology which is being used in driverless vehicle trials across the country.

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