Self Driving Cars to Change the Municipal Landscape


With self-driving cars expected in the near future, some city officials are already searching for answers to issues regarding the management of their municipal infrastructures. The question that seems to be on the tip of many city officials tongue is whether autonomous vehicles will be the perfect complement to their city's existing public transportation systems or a serious threat to their municipal investments. Will driverless cars reduce commuter the use of bus and rail systems? Will these autonomous means of transportation wipe out or increase the growth of suburban carpools?

According to a recent article published by Car and Driver, Bloomberg's philanthropic arm and the nonprofit Aspen Institute have joined forces in an effort to bring automakers, technology leaders and city officials together to discuss infrastructural preparedness for driverless vehicles. The collective international goal is to educate mayors of major cities as to how they can develop an effective plan to accommodate autonomous travel. These discussions include the obvious needs for advanced communication networks and high-tech roadways to deeper issues like the socioeconomic impact to public transportation and ride sharing initiatives.

Five Major Cities to Participate in Global Initiative

The initial five (5) cities to participate in the Bloomberg Aspen Initiative on Cities will be:

  • Austin, Texas
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Paris, France

The initiative will name an additional five cities at a later date. The goal is to help major cities define and implement policies targeted at the municipal impact of self-driving cars and subsequent need for advanced technologies.

Since capital-intensive investments are amortized over many years of operation, municipal leaders will need to develop the right strategies as autonomous vehicles move out of downtown areas toward the suburbs. Of great concern will be the possible widening in economic segregation between those who can pay for the convenience of owning a vehicle that operate without human intervention and those who rely heavily on public transportation systems. As always, E3 Spark Plugs will stay on top of reporting a broad range of issues as they continue to emerge at a very fast rate.

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