Imagine a scene from the near-future: You get dropped off downtown by a driverless car. You slam the door and head into your office or appointment. But then where does the autonomous vehicle go?
It’s a question that cities would be wise to consider now. Self-driving cars may be on the roads within the next decade or two.
Automakers and specialized startups alike are aggressively developing automated vehicles (AVs), while government agencies explore ways to reduce regulatory barriers. Ride-hailing companies such as Lyft and Uber plan to operate some AVs, but others could become private robotaxis that drop owners off wherever they like and pick them up later.
Without policies to encourage sharing, it’s possible there could be many private AVs on the road. We are civil and environmental engineers who collaborated with Chris Hendrickson, director of Carnegie Mellon’s Traffic21 Institute, to examine the potential effects of private AVs on cities.