Commercial Investment Real Estate May/June 2017 - Page 34
States with Autonomous Vehicle Legislation
- North Dakota
- And the District of Columbia
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures
A major question is how the onset of autonomous vehicles
will affect the urban-suburban dynamic. People may be
drawn to the suburbs because commuting in a driverless
vehicle would be less stressful and more productive, while
the cost and headache of urban parking would no longer
be an issue.
On the other hand, as parking garages and other automo-
bile-related space are converted to residential, recreational,
or commercial uses, could cities become less expensive and
more attractive to newer demographics?
“The world is never a simple binary yes and no,” Branson
says. “I think the effects will vary. There will be interest-
ing winners in the suburban environment and in the urban
Rapid Technology Breakthroughs
Autonomous vehicle technology comes in many different
forms, some of which many individuals may already be
using in their personal vehicles. New models of popular
cars increasingly include features that help drivers brake,
park, and avoid collisions.
A study by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s
John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
identiﬁ es 13 different autonomous vehicle concepts, rang-
Self-driving Technology Could Eliminate
the Hassle of Human-Powered Parking.
Search for parking
Source: Consumers Electronics
May | June 2017
ing from near-term automated technologies (such as, trafﬁ c
jam assist) to fully automated vehicles that lack any mecha-
nism for human operation.
“Some of the concepts represent automated vehicle fea-
tures that are likely to be introduced within a few years,” the
U.S. Transportation study authors wrote. “More advanced
concepts, on the other hand, may not be available for a
decade or more (if ever), but the concepts represent plausible
applications of automated vehicle technology in light of the
current pace of technological development.”
Pros, Cons, and Obstacles
Proponents of driverless vehicle technology contend that
removing humans from the traveling equation will make
roads safer and more efﬁ cient. When machines do the
driving, they assert that individuals will live in a happier,
more productive, and less energy-dependent society.
Myriad studies have found that human error or deﬁ cien-
cies contribute to about nine of every 10 automobile acci-
dents. With computers at the wheel, trafﬁ c jams caused by
crashes would diminish, and cars could conceivably travel
closer together in narrower lanes. Delays resulting from
distracted drivers, hesitations at trafﬁ c signals, and many
other efﬁ ciency drains would disappear.
Skeptics worry about the loss of human control and
argue that the technology isn’t sophisticated enough for
everything that goes into driving. Case in point: Tesla’s
Autopilot was involved in a fatal crash in Florida on May 7,
2016. With the autonomous feature engaged, the car drove
directly into a tractor-trailer at 65 miles per hour.
Other resistance may be motivated by the threat to cer-
tain professions, such as truck and taxi drivers, and even
entire industries such as automobile insurance and car deal-
ers. Regulatory and transportation infrastructure limita-
tions also exist.
Regulators are trying. According to the National Confer-
ence of State Legislatures, nine states and the District of
Columbia had enacted legislation related to autonomous
vehicle operations, and two had issued an executive order
on driverless vehicles as of year-end 2016. Several others
continue their debate on the matter.
In conjunction with its funding news, the U.S. Depart-
ment of Transportation released a set of federal guidelines
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