How will cities harness connected and autonomous vehicles?


Connected and autonomous vehicles have the potential to vastly improve urban mobility, but could also make congestion worse, or threaten the viability of vital public transport services.

That’s the finding of a new report from design and consultancy firm Arcadis, which looks at the mobility needs of 14 global cities and explores the extent to which connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) can be harnessed to meet transportation goals.

"For our cities, exclusively electric Connected and Autonomous Vehicles will present a huge opportunity to radically transform urban mobility."

John Batten, Arcadis

The way cities respond to a future with driverless cars depends on a variety of factors, including their cultural heritage and existing types of infrastructure, says the report. As a result, cities should avoid a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, which would not deliver the full range of opportunities available.

The report – Citizens in Motion – warns that cities must prioritise inclusivity and accessibility for all citizens when they design solutions that use new transportation technology.

Otherwise, says Arcadis, there is a risk that connected and autonomous vehicles could create a two-tier public transport society, and risk depriving existing providers, such as taxi and bus companies, of income. To avoid this, suggests the report, city governments should engage with the private sector to find solutions that strengthen the whole network.

“Cities across the world are grappling with congestion, overcrowded transport, poor air quality, and the need to drive greater prosperity, competitiveness and improve the citizen-experience,” said John Batten, Global Cities Director at Arcadis.

“The emerging CAV revolution opens a new frontier of disruption in transportation and urban living, beyond existing examples such as Uber. For our cities, exclusively electric Connected and Autonomous Vehicles will present a huge opportunity to radically transform urban mobility.”

The report looks at the approaches to mobility being explored in different cities, such as the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) ridesharing pilot introduced in Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district.

It also highlights Singapore’s plans to have self-driving buses and shuttles on public roads by 2022, while noting that New York, whose streets are 77% occupied by cars, presents an opportunity for connected and autonomous vehicles to help ‘reclaim the streets’.

The common feature among the 14 cities evaluated is their aim to have healthy, safe, citizen-centric, sustainable, accessible and smart urban mobility functions, notes the report, outlining recommendations for how each of them can harness connected and autonomous vehicles to help solve these mobility challenges.