Driverless cars will change everything – and they’re here now!

Automated vehicles (AV) are the future and the future is here now.  AVs will radically change how we live and use cities and they are coming sooner than expected.  This new technology will substantially improve access to jobs, services and entertainment and change mobility platforms.  It will change not only the way we move about, but where we live, how we shop, property values and employment opportunities.

The new service economy is built on hyper-connectivity whether it’s through the iPhone, connected laptops or face to face meetings in new café settings. AVs will enhance hyper-connectivity and will drive the next wave of productivity improvements and new employment in Australia.

Australian cities were designed and built for the traditional motor vehicle and generated motor vehicle based economies. This resulted in road networks, manufacturing plants and dispersed employment accessible by car. Public transport helped spread cities along transport corridors but with the widespread rise of private vehicles in the 1960s, public transport was cannibalised.

The Diverse Mobility Revolution will be kick started by Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platforms that can deliver the “holy grail” of transport. MaaS has the ability to fully integrate all modes of transport into a seamless customer focused service through technology. It will provide comprehensive real-time travel options for customers through a smart phone application. A fundamental principle and core motivation behind the deployment of MaaS is that it is a customer centric proposition – the best most efficient least cost access to jobs, services and entertainment.

MaaS, by its nature, is focussed on the entire transport system and integrates Australia’s often underutilised public transport system to make best use of its strengths – frequent mass transit trunk routes and covers off its weaknesses – infrequent coverage services.  It also values and integrates active travel and will integrate the raft of transport innovations headed our way.

In 1963, Chris Foster wrote a ground-breaking book The Transport Problem. This book was an important foundation for the development of transport economics and in particular, supporting funding for the expansion of the London Underground. In 2017, a new transport problem is emerging – AVs, which if introduced in an unmanaged fashion will not only exacerbate the current high levels of traffic congestion choking cities and reducing productivity but further entrench inequity for low income households by reducing access to higher paying jobs, education and community facilities.

Some community and industry groups in New York are already calling for special status to be given to AVs to halve travel times across the city by reallocating road space specifically to AV only use and moving cyclists and pedestrians away from these dedicated routes so that higher speeds can be attained in the urban environment. These ideas will put a brake on the more liveable city visions currently being actively pursued by governments throughout much of the developed world and particularly in Australia.

In 2017, Australian urban planning and transport planning strategies still reflect the economic impacts of traditional motor vehicles as modified by improvements in public transport. The late 20th century saw the emergence of the service sector in Australia and despite the most significant mining boom in Australian history, the 21st century has confirmed the pre-eminence of this trend driven by the fast growth in information and communications technologies, professional and scientific services.

In the same way that smartphones and derived technologies applications are revolutionising everything from health and fitness to online retailing and personal relationships via digital connectedness, AVs will revolutionise the world not only in terms of physical connectedness but also through accelerated development of Artificial Intelligence. AVs are accelerating machine learning of complex human behaviours in complex decision making situations. This investment is accelerating expenditure in AI which in turn is focusing on many important applications in the fields of health and education. AI spin-off technologies will transform urban life. The challenge is to harness the AV revolution, to maximise these exciting and unexpected benefits for all Australians.

Autropolis lays out the opportunities and benefits that are likely to result from the well-considered introduction of AVs. The book provides a rich context and rationale for the accelerated introduction of AVs. This book is mandatory reading for businesses, government policy makers, urban developers, planners, property industry and the general community to understand, participate and influence this potentially cataclysmic upheaval of personal lifestyle and business practices.

To purchase a copy or attend a presentation, please contact Amy Williams – 0451 155 663 or amy.williams@macroplan.com.au .

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