Cities Usher in Autonomous Vehicles

July 9, 2020

Ready or not, autonomous vehicles (AVs) are on the way, and cities around the world are in the testing stages of implementation.

Autonomous Shuttle Trials in U.S. Cities

Waymo, a driverless shuttle service, launched limited autonomous rides in Phoenix in 2018. Subscribers hail a shuttle via an app. The shuttle takes them and other passengers to their destination – without a driver behind the wheel. New York City launched a similar limited autonomous shuttle service in 2019. Though neither service is fully open to the public yet, the AI involved in autonomous driving continues to evolve. With COVID-19, Waymo continues to test its cars with only safety drivers inside the vehicles.

In Pittsburgh, five separate companies are testing at least 55 autonomous vehicles throughout the city’s neighborhoods. The city issued an Executive Order, mandating cooperation between the companies and the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure to ensure autonomous testing transparency, safety and public benefit.

Toronto – The Autonomous Vehicle City of 2050

Toronto has launched an Automated Vehicle Tactical Plan to implement autonomous vehicles throughout the city by 2050. The plan outlines directives for social equity & health, environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, privacy and road safety & security. The city plans to be “AV ready” by 2022 with the launch of autonomous shuttles. Over time, the city will launch further AV initiatives with autonomous buses, delivery vehicles, trash and recycle pickup and snowplows. These vehicles will be released in all neighborhoods to citizens of all incomes and will shuttle them to school, work, health appointments, shopping and many other destinations. Individual car ownership is expected to decline, and the city will renovate parking decks and lots into spaces for community, housing or businesses. The city expects AV initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles by 80% by 2050.

European Cities Trial Autonomous Buses, Trucks & Airport Shuttles

Stockholm, Sweden is launching autonomous buses this year. The buses can transport up to 80 passengers at time but will initially be launched and tested empty. It is hoped the buses will cut down on traffic congestion. A few Swedish cities are also trialing autonomous transport trucks with the goal of greater efficiency and sustainability.

Along with autonomous buses, Manchester, England is launching autonomous cars to be used as airport shuttles. The trial will involve three vehicles to assist mobility limited individuals in traversing the airport’s roads as well as travel to the airport from the Stockport Railway Station. There are no plans to launch the vehicles to the expanded public but the test will gather data on the potential benefits of shared mobility solutions.

Asian Cities Expand Autonomous Testing Areas

Singapore is opening its western half – over 1,000km of public roads – to the testing of autonomous vehicles, including cars, buses and trucks. The expansion allows for testing the vehicles in a wider range of traffic and road conditions. Singapore plans for pilot deployment of the vehicles in the early 2020s.

Beijing has opened over 300km of roads for testing autonomous cars with passengers. So far, at least 40 vehicles have been authorized for passenger transport. The city plans to open 2,000km of roads for AV testing by 2022. Six other cities in China have also approved passenger AV testing.

The Future of Autonomous Vehicles

As testing increases, you may see AVs in your city sooner than you think. The global autonomous vehicles market is expected to be worth $556 billion by 2026, growing 34% from 2020.