Right now, I am torn between believing true autonomous vehicles will be part of the main landscape by 2021 and thinking actually that goal is completely unrealistic and there is a lot more work to be done.
Driving in London sucks. I don’t do it that often but I used to and it was far easier back then. Apparently London drivers spend an average of 101 hours a year stuck in traffic, compared to 30 hours outside of the capital. So, you cannot help but think if something doesn't change then it's only going to get worse, cost more for London's economy and waste people's lives. That’s after the massive amount of air and noise pollution.
My point is cities are just getting more and more clogged up. Aside from the terrible pollution and waste of fuel, people's lives are being impacted - plus their wellbeing. Imagine what you could be doing if you weren’t spending that two to four hours a day in a vehicle, sat in traffic fighting for the next meter that you will spend the next few minutes of your life sat in or indeed having to listen to some terrible breakfast show.
You could be doing stuff, working on stuff, learning stuff, spending time with your family. Looking at Volkswagens plans for the not so distant future I am sure their modern version of the VW splitscreen bus will be a working, living, entertainment space. How long before we see a WeWork type concept of having an office space while you move? Already you could see shared working space in vehicles while you travel to meetings.
Cities have to have some objectives with this autonomous vehicle wave that will happen. There is opportunity to reduce accidents (caused, on the whole, by drivers) by some 80 percent. I read with positive anticipation that the NHS would be relieved in areas, freeing up staff and associated resources.
As I have mentioned before in other articles, everyone having access to some form of driverless transport could improve the mobility of the elderly, especially those with disabilities.
If autonomous vehicles mean better handling of vehicle journeys, thus meaning fewer vehicles on the road and less parking spaces (up to 40 percent freed up) then just imagine the additional green spaces we could have in London.
In fact where you live may not even be dictated by the nearest tube station or commute to your job by overland. We could indeed spread the load from overland services to autonomous vehicles. Not only would you improve people's commute time, but also wellbeing. Let's face it, current London commutes cannot be good for people.
Overall, cities like London will become what they were designed to be: cities to enjoy. However I suspect the widespread adoption of true autonomous across a city like London may take another 15 years to reach its full potential.