As Self-Driving Cars Hit the Streets, New Equity Concerns Emerge

State and local officials need to act proactively to make sure that widespread use of self-driving vehicles doesn’t leave out historically disadvantaged communities, a team of researchers from the Urban Institute warned in a new report.

The researchers said a broad shift from human drivers to software-piloted vehicles could help poor people and non-white communities, if the technology can reduce the number of traffic deaths and cut down on the air pollution that disproportionately affects those residents. Autonomous vehicles could also increase transportation options for older people or people with disabilities, the Urban analysts said.

But none of those advantages are guaranteed, they cautioned.