The technology of autonomous vehicles (AVs) is progressing rapidly, but have we really thought through [tandfonline.com] how they'll work in reality?
In its report on AVs in Australia, Austroads (the association of Australasian road transport and traffic agencies) paints both positive and negative scenarios [austroads.com.au] for the future.
The positive scenario suggests that AVs could reduce car ownership and use thanks to a fleet of shared and connected AVs. These AVs would roam the city, filling in gaps in the timetables and fixed routes of a superior and cheaper public transport network.
But for this scenario to work, AVs must be shared and not privately owned, and they must complement a robust public transport system that accommodates most trips. These mechanisms are either weak or nonexistent in most Australian cities, suggesting it's unlikely the arrival of AVs will reduce our dependence on private cars.
Shared autonomous cars should be as much fun as riding in the back of a New York cab.