The National Association of City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) policy statement on automated vehicles, released in June 2016, is an illustration of the ways that automated driving can — and likely will — impact society.
For example, the policy statement pointed out that automated vehicles (AVs) should make whole transportation systems more efficient, meaning that existing infrastructure will be able to serve more people without expansion. In other words, those in charge of planning infrastructure projects need to start thinking about how necessary those projects would be if congestion were reduced and if more people were traveling in groups instead of personally.
That also has implications for city planning. Vehicles that could park themselves or use up less space on the road could suddenly free up large swaths of urban environment previously dedicated to transportation.
And it will heavily rely on data, which might become crucial to efforts to link various components of transportation systems together and make the entire system work more efficiently. NACTO proposed making that data open, while others have talked about the need for data to be standardized.
Finally, the organization cautioned agencies that rely on tax revenues from gas-powered vehicles and registrations to start looking for alternative funding mechanisms. As AVs begin to proliferate, they could lead to shared ownership and reduced fuel consumption — not to mention a potential dip in revenue from parking tickets and traffic violation citations.