Do you really need a car? Could you survive without one?

haydn.thompson Friday September 29, 2017

The continued application of CPS in cars will have great impact on daily life. Apart from the obvious changes in functionality resulting in greater safety through automated features such as automatic braking, lane keeping, etc. the likelihood is that the role of the driver within the car will slowly diminish, and if fully autonomous cars become the norm, then the role of vehicles in society will alter in ways that are hard to foresee. For instance, if people in future buy a mobility service rather than a car then the car as a status symbol may disappear as new modes of ownership are introduced. Already there are moves towards this model. This raises the question of what future status symbols may be? Likewise, if cars become autonomous then there will be no need for a driving licence. The classic rites of passage for young people to gain a driving licence will disappear. The adoption of mobility solutions is also likely to result in changes in the landscape of our cities. An ITF study (2015) shows that in the future up to 90% of the cars that are currently parked on the streets in urban areas could be removed if shared vehicles replace private cars. At the same time the introduction of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) could result in public transport services that can be made responsive to the mobility demands of citizens in real-time. In small to middle-sized cities autonomous taxis or ‘Uber’ -type of services could act as a replacement for public transport with social media replacing traditional taxi call centres. So what does this mean? For city planners who are struggling to deal with increased urbanisation, and all the problems that come with this, there will be a need to think about how new services which may be introduced in the future will impact citizens. So now is the time to start thinking about whether we could survive without a car and how this could be managed to maximise the positive impacts and also minimise the negative impacts.