Driverless Future: A policy roadmap for city leaders

The autonomous vehicle has arrived. With automakers and technology firms announcing pilot programs almost daily, it is clear that this technology is quickly becoming a reality on our roads and highways.

The introduction of the autonomous vehicle (AV) and its synergy with ridesourcing services such as Uber, Lyft, Via, Chariot and others, will force cities to confront a host of uncertainties on issues ranging from safety, ethics, insurance, and regulatory requirements to technological necessity, pricing, and the scale of widespread adoption.

Cities will soon have to make complex decisions related to infrastructure, urban mobility, land use, and social equity and inclusion as people give up car ownership and take up ridesourcing and, in the near future, ridesourcing run by AVs.

Policymakers have to evaluate how an increasing share of AVs helps or hurts policy objectives, as a growing number of people shift to ridesourcing services and give up traditional public transit. A ridesourcing vehicle, with no driver and no labor costs, could offer extremely low prices, convenient service and be highly disruptive in many cities.

Cities that do nothing face major risks. If proper policies are not in place, transit agencies may lose revenues, professional drivers may be unemployed, cities may be left with large areas of empty parking spaces, and residents and businesses may move in large numbers to suburban and rural areas.


On the other hand, cities that prepare for this technology can reap many benefits, such as the removal of millions of cars from the road, a more sustainable environment, increased mobility, efficiency and social equity, new employment opportunities for drivers and redevelopment of existing parking spaces.

Public policy will play a decisive role in shaping AV technology and guiding its impact on cities, as it did during past technological revolutions involving the railroad, the streetcar, and the automobile. Cities have a window of opportunity to shape how the autonomous vehicle is used and must act now to define policies that minimize risks and maximize the benefits of driverless technology.

There is a clear way forward. Cities are already experimenting with new policies, programs and partnerships to address the rise of shared mobility. Based on these experiments, many of which offer a roadmap to AV policy, we have identified six major priorities for policymakers:

1. Leverage technology to enhance mobility.

2. Prioritize and modernize public transit

3. Implement dynamic pricing.

4. Plan for mixed-use, car-light neighborhoods.

5. Encourage adaptable parking.

6. Promote equitable access to new jobs and services.

Click here to read our report: Driverless Future: A Policy Roadmap for City Leaders

Paul Fielden

Global and European Automotive Sector Leader Delivering Mobililty Solutions +44 7764 146 068 Ask me a question