A new study has highlighted specific measures to be taken for the implementation of driverless cars in cities including London, New York and Hong Kong, profiling their respective mobility infrastructures and using this as a foundation for its recommendations


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“Change is coming” is the key message from a new report highlighting how to implement driverless cars in cities all over the world – from London and Hong Kong to New York and Sydney.

The study by design and consultancy firm Arcadis also shows the existing transport infrastructure within these international hubs and outlines their respective “mobility objectives”.

It reads: “The proliferation of CAV (connected and autonomous vehicles) is inevitable.

“However, exactly what form this disruption will take in our cities, from business and service models to the vehicle itself, is yet to be fully defined.

“All cities share common fundamental attributes, but are ultimately different, with their own histories, cultures, topographies, infrastructures and aspirations.

“Because of this, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to CAV is unlikely to deliver the full extent of the opportunity available and will not ensure that the special character of a city is protected.

“Cities around the world have different visions for CAV. Cities like Singapore and San Francisco put CAV at the heart of the future of mass transit.

“In contrast, others such as Paris and Hong Kong have more emergent ambitions to develop CAV as an enhanced personal transport solution.”

Here we break down some of the most high-profile cities in Arcadis’ report, and exactly how they will facilitate the coming change concerning the “inevitable” arrival of driverless cars in cities.

Driverless cars in cities: London

Arcadis’ research shows that the capital of the UK has more than 27 million passenger trips a day, with over four million people using ride-sharing apps on a regular basis and 54% of households playing host to at least one private motor vehicle.

This is only set to increase as the population of Greater London is expected to grow by 0.7% per year through to 2046.

Arcadis London city executive Peter Hogg said: “As London moves towards mega-city status by 2040, mobility challenges will be ever present.

“How the city embraces CAV will be a key fork in the road, that will either enhance or frustrate city performance.”

The country’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) is working to make the UK a premier development location, providing over £250m in funding, and an electric vehicle charging infrastructure taskforce has already been introduced.

driverless cars in cities

The study recommends London works together with the UK’s private sector to accelerate the development of driverless cars and define in what ways they could be rolled out onto the city’s streets.

In tandem with this, it suggests the UK capital should embrace more pilot schemes related to autonomous vehicles, and work to identify CAV opportunities in relation to public transport.


Driverless cars in cities: Syndey

Almost 37% of Sydney’s population, which is expected to grow by almost 1.5% every year through to 2036, used a ridesharing service last year, while households own 1.8 cars on average.

According to Arcadis, this high level of private car ownership might present a challenge to the uptake of a more communal CAV-based sharing system – although 91% of those who used a ride-sharing service said they were satisfied.

The adoption of electric vehicles in the Australian city has been slow, with little charging infrastructure yet in place.

But as far as driverless transport systems are concerned, the picture looks a little brighter as Sydney is set to be the first city in the country to operate a completely autonomous metro system.

The country’s Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities said in a statement: “Australian governments are working together to make sure automated vehicles can be legally and safely used when they are available for purchase.”

driverless cars in cities

To speed up the implementation of autonomous vehicles in the city, Arcadis suggests Sydney uses the success of its various rides-haring services and the positive sentiment from its residents towards them to consolidate support for future CAV systems.

It also argues the city should review its electric vehicle charging price structures in order to lay the groundwork for the proliferation of autonomous vehicles, as well as the decarbonisation of those privately-owned.


Driverless cars in cities: Hong Kong

More than 12 million passenger trips are registered daily in Hong Kong and the city suffers from the increasingly potent consequences of its high pollution output, with the number of days when urban smog posed a health risk doubling last year.

About 70% of the registered vehicles in the city are private, highlighting the approach to transport taken by its population, which is expected to peak at 8.22 million in 2043.

Hong Kong has a “Smart City” plan, outlining its future, but while it includes sections on driverless vehicles, no legal framework concerning their implementation has been laid out, and data and smart traffic management systems took greater priority.

This, coupled with constrained and hectic road environments, presents a considerable challenge as far as the practical roll-out of CAV is concerned.

Francis Au, Arcadis’ head of Hong Kong and Macau, said: “To accelerate advocacy for
CAV adoption, the city needs a framework that strikes a balance between the interest
of transport operators, passengers and technology, with a focus on ‘first and last mile’ connection around metro stations.”

driverless cars in cities

Arcadis recommends the city conducts specific research into autonomous vehicle technology that ensures any adopted systems align with its existing infrastructure, therefore making for a more seamless transition.

Building on this, it suggests Hong Kong should consider its existing initiatives that could be integrated with those relating to CAV, in order to create a MaaS (mobility as a service) offering that gives citizens a better mobility experience.


Driverless cars in cities: Singapore

Singaporeans spend an average of 90 minutes on public transport every day, while as recently as 2015 there were almost one million motor vehicles in their city – with 50% privately-owned.

According to the study, Singapore has generally proved amenable to the concept of CAV, and the popularity of ride-sharing schemes has increased in recent years, however electric vehicles have a way to go as their price is not yet competitive.

The city has established the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport for Singapore (CARTS), which co-ordinates all CAV initiatives and enterprises, and is home to an autonomous vehicle testing centre as of 2016.

Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan said: “CAV is especially promising for Singapore
because it can help alleviate the tight land and manpower limits that currently constrain our land transport system.

Tim Risbridger, head of Arcadis in Singapore, added: “We are moving toward a future where the general public has an increasing acceptance of CAV.

“However, there is still a long way to go, such as addressing perceived safety concerns to enable integration with other modes of transport.”

driverless cars in cities

Arcadis recommends Singapore develops technologies focusing on delivering a
reliable CAV system that can be safely incorporated into living environments, which are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in the city.


Driverless cars in cities: New York

More than 2.4 billion passenger trips are made in New York every year, with 62% of its population opting for sustainable vehicles, while 33% use ride-sharing services in a trend that’s growing as taxi use recedes.

The Big Apple has much to gain from widespread adoption of CAV, as 6,000 miles and 77% of the space on its streets is currently occupied by cars, providing an opportunity for the new technology to “reclaim” them.

Arcadis New York city executive Peter Glus said: “CAV potentially offers the opportunity to alleviate congestion and create development that is more inclusive and sustainable.”

New York is also home to an ongoing programme designed to install multiple rapid electric vehicle charger hubs throughout its multiple districts by the end of this year, and has a number of tax credits in place to incentivise the installation of more stations.

Mayor Bill de Blasio added: “By helping develop the infrastructure necessary for electric vehicles, we’re going to make it easier than ever for New Yorkers to switch.”

driverless cars in cities

Arcadis argues the city should develop specific incentives that encourage car owners to switch from private ownership, thereby mitigating the risk of increased congestion and paving the way for a smoother CAV transition.

It also suggests that New York streamline its various transport agencies that might be affected by the implementation of autonomous vehicles, in an attempt to make its infrastructure more accommodating to the new technology.