Talking autonomy: what does the future hold?


What brings you to the World Congress?

I came to provide a talk about the diffusion of automated vehicles in our cities. There is a huge amount of hype about a how soon automated vehicle will make car ownership unnecessary, and how likely that is to really happen, and to what degree this shift will take place.

What have been the highlights for you so far?

Sadly, that our confusion about the direction and workability of vehicle automation – even our professional confusion – is getting out of hand. Each is believing his own hype. I know I believe mine.

What are the most recent theories you have been working on?

That Level 3 autonomous vehicles will bring more urban sprawl and more congestion while sustaining parking. While Level 4 microtransit and taxi vehicles will decimate our municipal bus systems.

How should the transportation community be preparing for autonomous vehicles?

By setting goals for the portion of passenger miles traveled in shared vehicles (staged over years). By imaging each stage and asking what do we need to do to get to that stage – take it one stage at a time. And stop talking about level 5 vehicles. They are decades away. If we don’t address the effects of Level 3 (sprawl, congestion) and Level 4 (loss of bus transit), then Level 5 will not solve these problems either.

What do you hope the most important ‘take home’ will be for WC attendees this year?

Things are moving faster (differently) than we can generally appreciate.

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).