Self-driven car technology is driving towards reshaping cities well beyond easing traffic congestion. One of the biggest features of this new technology includes generation of the vast amount of data which government officials can use to fill potholes, replacing parking lots with parks and creating traffic lanes for the cyclist, public transportation and emergency responders.
Aid in Development of Cities
Data generated from autonomous vehicles help in providing cities with a much more comprehensive and granular view of the wear-and-tear of infrastructure offer detailed data about vehicular and pedestrian traffic patterns.
The prototypes of self-driven vehicles deployed by start-ups and car manufacturers are generating gigabytes of data about location, road conditions, movement of traffic on a minute by minute basis. The quality of data collection will only improve as this technology advances.
Even today, cities can harness this data from apps such as Google Maps and ride-hailing services such as Uber, Grab, Lyft to help city planners and developers towards helping in creating designated zones to pick-up and drop-off passengers without blocking traffic. City officials can use this data for monitoring road repairs, creating a faster and effective public transportation and finding new uses for parking garages.
Free-up Real Estate used for Parking
Personal use vehicles are sitting idle about 95 per cent of the time. Self-driving cars can change this, enabling cars to function and service 24/7, and pulling off the road only for maintenance and refuelling.
This will help in opening up lots of space which is presently devoted towards parking, allowing freeing real estate which can be used to low-cost housing, open green spaces and other infrastructural development projects.
Cities such as Los Angeles has already started towards exploring ways to repurpose parking structures for housing, retail and other activities. Also, having fewer cars on the street will make it easier for cities to designate streets and lanes of cyclist and pedestrians. This would result in the formation of more pedestrian and cyclist friendly districts and creating more public space for public use.
Improve City Planning and Zoning Decisions
Another use of data collected by self-driving cars can be utilized towards influencing zoning requirements for different residential and commercial districts. Self-driving cars can reduce the space required for parking space required in many districts and cities for the development of new office and retail buildings. Presently, parking space eats up in a major proportion of the footprint of developments. New properties will require lesser parking space and also help in bringing about changes required in local ordinances.
Increase Road Safety
The data collected from self-driving cars will also help to make cities much safer. With the combination of 5G wireless services which will be rolled by major telecom companies shortly, cutting edge computing, IoT-driven sensors and devices which can generate and send information on a real-time basis to the nearest cloud data centre.
This would enable making faster decisions with computer-to-machine interactions are carried out in milliseconds, which are much faster than human response to different situations on the road.
Self-driving cars can be equipped with automated warning systems when the street lights are about to change, allowing these cars to stop at a much shorter distance and prevent jumping red lights and accidents caused by not following traffic rules. This increased efficiency can also help cities to maximize their road space and open up doors for creating separate lanes for public transportation and mass transit. This will revolutionize how people work and live in cities.
While autonomous and driver vehicle technology is still under development and yet to be tested on actual public roads in metropolitan cities, the technology has potential to completely revolutionize the cities and the lives of the people living in it. Self-driving technology has the potential of improving the maintenance and development roads, free-up real estate utilized for parking, improve city planning and zoning decisions and increase the safety of both the motorist and the pedestrians while decongesting traffic on city roads.