Driverless cars could lead to transport revolution, new approach to urban planning
9th Sept 2016
Leading planning experts say self-driving, or driverless cars, could eventually bring about the end of individual car ownership, and a new approach on urban planning.
Professor Robyn Dowling, a planning expert with University of Sydney, believes the rise of shared transport services like Uber and GoGet point to a future where private companies will offer affordable, driverless services to the public.
“I see driverless cars probably replicating the experience of car sharing as individuals — so you could call up a car from your smart phone, to pick you up for a short journey,” she told the Australia Wide program.
“Or there might be minibuses that will pick you up for a short journey. It’s called transit on demand.”
According to urban designer Martin Tomitsch, the popularity of shared transport has been driven by inner-city millennials, who prioritise smart phones and connectivity over car ownership.
“We can already see the end of the family car coming in the near future. The new generation growing up doesn’t save up to buy a car, what’s important to them is being connected with their friends through social media,” he said.
While driverless cars may be retailing in as little as five years, Australian laws do not permit their usage, and many road-users are fearful that unoccupied, moving cars are highly dangerous.
Greg Killeen is a quadriplegic and spokesman for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia. He argues driverless cars have overlooked benefits, and hopes safety and legal issues are resolved.
“The introduction of driverless cars will be fantastic for people with a disability,” he said.
“The ability to get into the vehicle and have it drive from point-to-point independently will give great quality of life to people with disability.”
He says driverless share-cars will lower cost barriers for disabled car-users as well as their reliance on able-bodied drivers to get around.
But experts warn that any transition to a driverless future will not be easy.
“We will have to consider the human needs and the other people using the city, people driving cars manually while the driverless cars are coming onto the streets and being rolled out,” Mr Tomitsch said.
“Because it’s not going to be a sudden change from one to the other.”
You can see more on this story on the Australia Wide program, Saturdays 11:30AM EST on News 24 or online.