Journal Article
The impact of autonomous vehicles on cities: a review

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are starting to hit our roads. It is only a matter of time until the technological challenges still facing full AV implementation are solved, and legal, social, and transport issues related to AVs become part of the public discussion. AVs have the potential to become a major catalyst for urban transformation. To explore some of these transformations, first, we discuss the possibility of decoupling the many functions of urban vehicles from the form factor (without drivers, do cars need to look like they look today?). Second, we question whether AVs will lead to more or fewer cars on the roads, highlighting the synergies between AVs and ride- sharing schemes. Third, with AVs as part of multimodal and sharing- mobility systems, millions of square kilometers currently used for parking spaces might be liberated, or even change the way we design road space. Fourth, freed from the fatigue related to traffic, we question whether AVs would make people search for home locations farther from cities, increasing urban sprawl, or would rather attract more residents to city centers, also freed from congestion and pollution. Fifth, depending on responses to the previous questions and innovative traffic algorithms, we ask whether AVs will demand more or less road infrastructure. We conclude by suggesting that AVs offer the first opportunity to rethink urban life and city design since cars replaced horse-powered traffic and changed the design of cities for a hundred years.

Title
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsDuarte F., Ratti C.
JournalJournal of Urban Technology
Volume25
Issue4
Start Page3
Date Published07/2018
Abstract

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are starting to hit our roads. It is only a matter of time until the technological challenges still facing full AV implementation are solved, and legal, social, and transport issues related to AVs become part of the public discussion. AVs have the potential to become a major catalyst for urban transformation. To explore some of these transformations, first, we discuss the possibility of decoupling the many functions of urban vehicles from the form factor (without drivers, do cars need to look like they look today?). Second, we question whether AVs will lead to more or fewer cars on the roads, highlighting the synergies between AVs and ride- sharing schemes. Third, with AVs as part of multimodal and sharing- mobility systems, millions of square kilometers currently used for parking spaces might be liberated, or even change the way we design road space. Fourth, freed from the fatigue related to traffic, we question whether AVs would make people search for home locations farther from cities, increasing urban sprawl, or would rather attract more residents to city centers, also freed from congestion and pollution. Fifth, depending on responses to the previous questions and innovative traffic algorithms, we ask whether AVs will demand more or less road infrastructure. We conclude by suggesting that AVs offer the first opportunity to rethink urban life and city design since cars replaced horse-powered traffic and changed the design of cities for a hundred years.

DOI10.1080/10630732.2018.1493883