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A unique opportunity exists for infrastructure investment in Australia as transport as we know it faces disruption from autonomous vehicles.
Disruption is not a dirty word. Traditional transport models are being transformed for the better by savvy young upstarts: the taxi industry by Uber, for instance, and even bus services by on-demand provider Bridj in parts of Sydney.
Technology - Role - Government
How do we manage this rapidly evolving technology, and what is the role of local government?
Autonomous vehicles will soon be a familiar sight in bush and city landscapes. In New South Wales the transport minister, Andrew Constance, predicted in 2017 that public transport might not be needed in future, certainly with no drivers, because autonomous cars will handle everything.
Car - Servant - Master - City - Ones
I don't think this will happen. The car is a good servant, but a bad master in shaping our city, even autonomous ones.
What will a city of autonomous cars look like?
Approach - Vehicles - Cars - Day - Night
A fully car-based approach to autonomous vehicles would involve cars driving around suburbs day and night, searching for people to pick up on demand. These vehicles would move into corridors, main roads and freeways, travelling at high speeds with just a metre or so between them.
Increased road capacity, safety and the very real prospect of solar-powered cars are undeniable benefits.
Kind - City - Sprawl - Congestion - Departure
But what kind of city would we have? We would see more urban sprawl, possibly worse congestion and a departure from walkable cities.
We would lose an opportunity to reclaim pleasing city grids and urban centres. These spaces, which our city planners intended for pedestrians, have often been devoured by cars but are now returning to their rightful place as meeting spaces.
Transit - Vehicles - Benefit - Society - Chance
Autonomous transit vehicles with a collective benefit to society offer us a chance to continue to reclaim these spaces by providing rapid shared mobility where it doesn't exist today. This is why I like the trackless tram:...
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