Road vehicle automation and cities and regions

On the 23rd of January 2018, POLIS launched discussion paper offering the perspective of cities and regions on road vehicle automation.


Polis is concerned about the optimism bias conveyed by the media and literature about the introduction of AVs, especially automated cars which appear to be the focus. Expectations are being created that self-driving cars will be there tomorrow, will always operate perfectly and will solve congestion and eliminate accidents. While automated cars may bring some benefits, there is also the possibility that their widespread introduction in urban areas could lead to increased congestion, negative environmental impacts (unless all AVs are electric and/or powered by renewables) and negative health impacts, if walking and cycling are discouraged. Their introduction therefore needs to be carefully managed in the context of sustainable urban mobility objectives. In other words, even if they prove to be technically and commercially viable, it might be necessary to limit the use of AVs for policy reasons.

Against this backdrop, Polis saw the need to promote a discussion among its members about vehicle automation, focusing on the car as opposed to lorries and buses and on ‘personal mobility’ rather than logistics. While some of the points raised in the paper may well apply to these other modes, they do merit a separate discussion document. The aims of this paper are:

  • to raise awareness of AV developments and their potential mobility impact among city and regional administrations and to assist them in setting transport policies and plans to deal with them;
  • to raise awareness of city and regional transport policies among vehicle manufacturers and other automated vehicle players;
  • to communicate the views of local government on AV developments to a wide range of policy makers, in particular the European Commission and national governments, which are injecting substantial public funds to support research and development on AVs and building strategies to support AV deployment;
  • to challenge the AV community to develop products and services that fit the communities they will be used in.


The remainder of this paper explores the definition of automation; the potential impacts of automation and the issues that city/regional authorities need to address and engage on, as automated motoring advances.


Source: POLIS network


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