A new report from Siemens indicates that the advent of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) has the potential to cause major and disruptive changes to cities worldwide, and stresses the need for their authorities to plan early and tackle the issue in a wider context of mobility transformations.
The report, Cities in the Driving Seat – Connected and Autonomous Vehicles in Urban Development, was launched at the World Cities Summit in Singapore, and the study explores the interdependencies between urban development, public transportation policies, power supply, pollution, and the increasing share of CAV in urban traffic.
The authors from Siemens’ Global Center of Competence Cities (GCCC) argue that the lack of mid-term planning and delayed investments in infrastructure could create negative social, economic and environmental effects.
The report provides insights into opportunities as well as risks for cities faced with the arrival of CAVs. The study includes thought-leadership pieces from industry experts covering topics such as climate, health, accessibility, design and architecture.
The report also describes the key benefits and potential risks of CAVs and examines scenarios for adopting autonomy that illustrate how outcomes could differ significantly depending on how they are adopted. To maximize the benefits of automation and of the introduction of CAVs, the report recommends harnessing the advance of four transformations in unison: automation, electrification, digital connectivity, and shared mobility.
The report notes that the potential for CAVs to bring transformative change is huge and their benefits include:
• First- and last-mile trips that will strengthen public transport;
• Reduction of noise, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions;
• Decrease of number of road fatalities and injuries, 1.25 million lives lost annually worldwide due to road collisions, with some 90% of them the result of human error;
• Expanded mobility access to the young, elderly, impaired and marginalized;
• Repurposing of land currently used for parking and roadways into green space, housing, schools, protected cycle lanes, etc.; and
• Greater efficiencies and safety through the connection and communication of vehicles with city infrastructure.
However, without clear and thoughtful policies and regulations the arrival of CAV could result in negative consequences, such as:
• Continuation of effects of climate change if CAVs are not regulated to be low or zero carbon;
• No decrease in vehicle ownership if individuals prefer their own CAV instead of adopting a shared transport system;
• Unused CAVs may cause congestion and require unnecessary parking space;
• Increase of vehicle miles traveled if individuals alter their commute from walking, cycling or taking public transport to using CAVs.
“Autonomous vehicles must be part of a wider transformation of urban areas. Cities need to ensure that they work toward putting people first, and not cars, or we risk repeating the mistakes of the past,” noted Pete Daw, urban development and environment director at Siemens GCCC.
“The future of our cities could look very different with the adoption of connected and autonomous vehicles, and they could help shape future trends in climate change, air quality, public health and more.”