Autonomous Vehicles Fleets of the Future

In our continued effort to keep you up-to-date with projects, stories and trends from across the mobility sector, we summarize autonomous vehicles’ potential within the public transit experience according to a Policy Brief by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP).

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Navya Autonomous bus trail in South Perth, Western Australia

Several companies developing autonomous vehicles (AVs) claim that these vehicles could be ready for deployment within just four years. The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) recently discussed the potential of such vehicles to improve the mobility experience for everyone in their Policy Brief. UITP believes that if AVs are put to use in shared fleets such as ‘robo-taxis’, mini-buses or in car-sharing fleets, they could dramatically reduce the number of cars on the road, enable better connectivity between remote peripheral locations and urban centers. They could also crack the current first/last mile problem by offering door-to-door mobility solutions.

Potential for Improved Mobility for all

According to UITP’s Policy Brief, several recent studies in Germany, Portugal and the US, show AVs could enable mobility for all citizens to arrive at any destination with 80% fewer vehicles on the roads than today. Public transport services could be made more efficient during peak traffic hours, when demand is typically at its highest, offer 24/7 operation and be more cost effective. This meaningful reduction of cars on roads would mean significant improvement of air quality in our cities and has the potential to eliminate traffic congestion. Without the need for vast amounts of street space for parking, there could be more space for people to walk and cycle in our cities. Furthermore, if fleets of shared vehicles operate across our cities, the need for individuals to own a car would become obsolete.  

Improved Safety

The technology of AVs also means that driving patterns will be algorithmically optimized for route planning and traveling speed. These algorithms, combined with sensor systems across urban areas, could mean a 90% reduction of automobile-related accidents across the globe by removing human error from the driving equation. To put this in perspective, in the United States alone, this translates into 300,000 fatalities prevented every decade.    

According to the Policy Brief, these benefits will only be fully realized if AVs are shared, complementing an efficient high-capacity public transport system, and do not follow the traditional private ownership model.

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