On 23 March 2016, amendments to the Vienna Convention on road traffic opened the way to automated (or autonomous) driving. As a result automated driving technologies, which transfer driving tasks from a human being to the vehicle itself, will now be allowed in traffic, provided this function can be switched off by a human driver.
Autonomous driving is talked about as a revolution. But is it really? Even though this may improve road safety, it is unlikely that autonomous driving itself will greatly improve urban mobility. An autonomous-car traffic jam will still remain a traffic jam. However, the shift to autonomous driving does help us rethink how vehicles are used in cities.
UITP is in favour of sustainable efficient mobility and strongly supports the shared use of autonomous vehicles. This is something that could largely increase the efficiency of urban mobility. The evidence is there. But are we actually going in that direction?
From this early stage on, the policy focus should also include the necessary conditions to promote the shared use of autonomous vehicles – in addition to the focus on vehicle technology, traffic regulation, and liability issues.
UITP calls for public transport organisations to take a more active part in policy debates on autonomous vehicles, which are currently championed by private car makers. Together, we must demonstrate the enabling role public transport can play in the planning and operation of shared autonomous vehicles fleets, as well as push for research and development of new types of vehicles better suited to a shared use.
As a result, UITP will address the connection between public transport and autonomous driving, and highlight the measures that should be taken by our sector to encourage the shared use of autonomous vehicles at UITP’s next Combined Mobility workshop "Tomorrow's mobility: what should be the role of public authorities?" on 14 April in Barcelona.