It is 2025 and autonomous vehicles (AVs) are a fact of life. Many drivers are still behind the wheel of their “classic cars” but the switch rate to autonomous is much faster than predicted. Indeed those still driving are feeling embarrassed by their choice, because society is increasingly intolerant of any road accident, particularly those involving injury or fatality1.
Personal mobility has soared in the AV world, with the young, old and disabled rapidly taking advantage of their new freedom2 and working on the move has become second nature. The country is experiencing an economic boom from the resulting rise in productivity3, polls show social happiness has increased from the advent of what is widely known as “stress-free AV”, and there has been a small but noticeable improvement in public health, reducing strain on healthcare services.
This is not a controversial scenario to propose. Spending on technological investment in AV is now huge4, and the potential benefits self-evident to all except the most ardent motorhead.
In any event it is pointless debating the merits of AVs, because they will happen. The only uncertainty is precisely how long it will take before AVs make up the majority of vehicles on our roads. Estimates vary, but in nearly all cases suggest less than 20 years5.
What does this mean for policymakers at national, state and city level, for city transit authorities and national road authorities? They need to recognize the huge ramifications for how cities and countries will work, and their ability to influence some of that destiny for a better outcome for society.
There is an imperative to act now across a broad range of public policy design and implementation issues. Act now, so our countries and cities are AV-ready in time. Act now to ensure that investment decisions in our public realm and transport infrastructure anticipate the benefits that AV will bring.
There are five areas in particular where AVs have significant implications for public policy and service:
Public authorities need to start planning now to navigate through these myriad issues, and ensure that our AV dominated world is one designed to maximize social and economic benefit.
In upcoming @gov features we will explore the key issues in more detail, helping authorities to start to envision a blueprint for the design and implementation of an AV-powered community of the future.
The potential benefits of AV are huge; let’s start planning together now to make them a reality.
1Automobile insurance in the era of autonomous vehicles, KPMG in the US, June 2015, suggests accident frequency could drop by 80 percent.
2The Clockspeed Dilemma, KPMG International, January 2016.
3TSLA’s New Path to Disruption, Morgan Stanley, February 2014, and Autonomous Cars: Self-Driving the New Auto Industry Paradigm, Morgan Stanley, November 2013 Reference US, Canada and UK economic benefit forecasts
5IHS Autonomous sales forecast, IHS Automotive, December 2014.
7The Clockspeed Dilemma, KPMG International, January 2016
8Autonomous Vehicle Implementation Predictions, Implications for Transport Planning, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, August 2013.
9Automobile insurance in the era of autonomous vehicles, KPMG in the US, June 2015, estimates that the personal car insurance market could fall to 40 per cent of its current size.