How Self-Driving Vehicles Could Change Our Streets
Contactless ridesharing, a smaller carbon footprint and less land allocation for parking spaces.
It seems a bit of a dream but they are just some of the positive impacts self-driving cars could have on your neighbourhood.
- The majority of self-driving cars are likely to be a taxi or for commercial transport rather than privately owned vehicles
- Contactless ridesharing is a big advantage of self-driving cars
- Trucks equipped with services like gyms are expected to gain popularity
- People will have less reliance on vehicle ownership
- Governments are likely to ‘reclaim’ land from vehicles, especially in cities
Self-driving cars aren’t likely to be privately owned, instead, the majority being fleets of commercial vehicles. Transport companies are likely, at least initially, to have the means to monitor, maintain and operate self-driving cars.
If you rely on ridesharing apps or are tasked with ferrying family members who have mobility problems around, you’ll know that COVID made things very difficult.
Self-driving cars have the ability to transport those in high-risk categories without coming into contact with others. For example, transporting someone showing symptoms from home to hospital - no driver needed.
Facilities that come to you:
Self-driving cars don’t have to be... cars. With the technology interchangeable in trucks and larger vehicles, some businesses could come to you.
Gyms for example. One idea that’s been put forward is a mobile gym. A workout room sized for one or two people on the back of a truck. It may sound strange, but here’s how it works:
You book a time and location online and the mobile gym comes to you. Housed in the back of a self-driving truck, the facility is equipped with weights and exercise machines and even changing rooms and showers. Book one in for half an hour during your lunch break at work for example. No other people, so no risk of COVID transmission and no commuting to the gym.
Other ideas include self-driving cafes and other businesses, set up in trucks similar to the gym example.
Decreasing the need for private cars
More ride options mean less reliance on private vehicles. Most Australians rely on a vehicle, but with fleets of self-driving cars acting as taxi services, there’s no need for tertiary students, part-time and casual workers or even small families to have their own vehicle.
For example, a student schedules a self-driving car to match their university timetable. Or a pensioner schedules a weekly doctor appointment.
It might sound expensive as we (kind of) have these services already. However, without a driver needing an income and self-driving cars pegged as EVs, costs drop dramatically.
Did you know? Company fees and car expenses make up around 60% of the fare with current private vehicle rideshare options.
Won’t there be job losses? The lack of demand for drivers and those employed in transport may seem significant but there are needs for other positions. Monitoring the self-driving cars, maintenance, cleaning, construction, storage and repairs - all need staff.
With most self-driving cars labeled as ‘when they’re parked, they’re losing money’, expect a drastic decrease in the need for parking.
In fact, many cities around the world are already planning to reclaim land from vehicles. Parks (actual parks, not car parks) being the biggest vote for the extra space.
Did you know? On average, private vehicles are parked at least 95% of the time.
Self-driving cars - (slowly) coming to a road near you
Proving road safety and reliability on all roads is the high hurdle for self-driving cars. Although detection equipment, road and obstacle monitoring and other technology needed is ‘good, not great’, it still has a long way to go. New cars in 2021 may have some amazing technology but self-driving technology needs a lot of development.
Faded or poorly marked lanes, merging traffic and weather conditions, for example, make humans the best drivers - at least for now.
Some experts predict that we’re still decades away from seeing self-driving cars on roads.