‘Look mum, no hands,’ could be the cry of a school kid letting go of their bicycle handlebar. Very soon, it may be something we can all say when we hop in our cars - taking our hands off the steering wheel and our eyes off the road.
If that sounds to you like a recipe for traffic mayhem, you haven’t yet met up with the driverless car. The car that will pick you up, drop you off, and let you read the newspaper and have a coffee on the journey in-between.
This is not some science fiction vehicle from the distant future. You can actually drive ‘hands-free’ today. The technology is already available, and major trials are currently underway in the UK, the US and in Sweden.
In Australia, Adelaide is at the forefront with ongoing testing for driverless cars.
These cars need millions of kilometres of testing to make sure that all the potential errors in the sensors are eliminated. We also need new laws, rules and insurances to make sure we can integrate driverless and non-driverless cars on the road.
Even so, by 2020 - only a few years from now - driverless cars are likely to be in high demand. Most of the forecasts for the take-up of this technology are between 5 and 15 percent of the market place.
There is, however, a very limited understanding of how the impacts of driverless cars might play out. Let me give you an example. The current forecasting suggests there would be an increase in the number of vehicles on the road because people would be inclined to use driverless cars as a substitute for public transport or in conjunction with public transport, perhaps taking a driverless bus to the train station. If automated cars are further enhanced with solar power or batteries, making them cheaper to run, they will become even more attractive to use.
The current thinking is that the whole movement to driverless cars could end up in gridlock.
But against that, driverless vehicles have queuing technologies, allowing speed and traffic flow to be controlled through traffic lights. So there are reasonable prospects that the new technologies can neutralise the potential increase in congestion caused by more vehicles on the road.
Nevertheless, driverless cars will lead to entirely different patterns of driving, and change urban networks.
Firstly, fuel station location will alter dramatically. Secondly all of the stops we make on our way home in the car will change. Think about it: if there are 50% more cars on the road, it will be hard to get a parking spot at the supermarket at the end of the work day. In response, we’ll see an improvement in online and sharing technologies. There will be much more home delivery, much more ordering online, and we’ll see different distribution networks for a broad range of services.
The automated vehicle movement has led to what are called ‘new mobility ecosystems’, where firms like uber are already testing the viability of an automated uber service. We’ll also have a wide variety of car rental and car share schemes. In the States, at the moment, you can hire a car for $6 an hour just by basically swiping your card. So soon you’ll be able to drive a car, without hands . . . and without actually owning a car!
Macroplan has taken the lead on incorporating projections of how this game-changing technology will impact future planning. So, we are pleased to be supporting Future Vehicles World 2017 conference. This year is only the second time it has been held and Executive Chairman, Brian Haratsis will be a key note speaker.
Join us and a cast of key international industry experts in Sydney on May 2-4 to learn about the technology timeline, what’s imminent, and the various ‘future’ scenarios. Macroplan clients are eligible for a 10% partner discount – so use promo code ASSN at the time of registering.
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For more information or to discuss your property research requirements, please contact Amy Williams, National Marketing Manager on 02 9221 5211 or firstname.lastname@example.org.