I’m a junior majoring in Urban Planning. I’m interested in taking this class because I am curious about how autonomous cars will change the physical and social aspects of cities. I’m interested in the potential interactions between AVs, public transit, density, and suburbanization.
Self-driving cars driving on city roads is an almost inevitable fact at this point — the technology is advancing quickly, and policies will eventually catch up. Policies are the real hurdle to overcome before self-driving cars can overtake human-driven cars as the main form of private vehicle transportation.
Policies will determine who or what dominates the roads in the future. Will the rules of the road be dictated by what makes traveling in autonomous cars most efficient? Will cars — after a century of domination — take a back seat to other forms of transportation, now that people are no longer at the wheel? Will there be a segregation of uses (autonomous cars dominating the transit zone, people and bikes dominating the social zone) like that seen in the woonerfs (i.e. home-zones) of Europe?
The introduction of self-driving cars onto city roads will likely have significant impacts on the way we conceptualize public transit (door-to-door minibuses?), who can be a “driver,” and many other topics that we have yet to think of.