While computers in autonomous vehicles may be infallible, the laws of physics still govern safety. Vehicles will need to be programmed to travel at safe speeds for everyone, especially in urban areas.
Risk of pedestrian death increases with increasing speeds. Image credit: Cities Safer By Design / WRI
Driverless Cars Create Opportunity for a Better City
Safety and moral concerns aside, if done right, autonomous vehicles could help create better cities. Driverless cars require less road space, through reducing inefficiencies or the ability to maneuver within a narrow lane, which in theory could free up street space for pedestrians and cyclists. This leads to the question: What kind of cities will be shaped by an autonomous vehicle future? Ones that are safe and accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists, with high-quality public transport systems? Or the cities once envisioned by architects such as Le Corbusier and described by Jane Jacobs as dominated by the car, rather than built for the people? Just as most cities allowed the “horseless carriage” to take over streets, will cities make the same mistake with the driverless car?