The first thing you’d notice is the space. Today, cars spend 95% of their time parked, doing nothing. If those cars were employees, you’d fire them. But self-driving cars can be put to work. At the very least, they could park themselves in underground or multi-story lots away from busy downtown, where space is scarce.
But why stop there? Your car could spend its day working as hard as you, operating as an Uber-style taxi, or a delivery vehicle. This all leads to fewer parked cars, which in turn means more space for bike lanes and larger sidewalks. Instead of parked cars lining every downtown street, we might see park benches or street vendors, making the whole space much more livable for humans.
Now take a deep breath. The air will be cleaner. One recent study claims a 94 percent reduction in emissions if all taxis were self-driving and electric. Multiply that by all the cars on the road and city air could be as fresh as country air, and probably better-smelling.