A new look at autonomous-vehicle infrastructure

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What infrastructure improvements will promote the growth of autonomous vehicles while simultaneously encouraging shared ridership?

Imagine a future in which fleets of autonomous buses and shuttles effortlessly navigate through city streets to their designated stops. Ridesharing services dispatch shared autonomous vehicles (AVs) to pick up multiple passengers traveling along similar routes. Robo-taxis drop off passengers at subway stops for the next legs of their trips. Some traditional car owners decide that they no longer need personal vehicles because shared-mobility AVs fulfill their needs. Road congestion drops because there are fewer vehicles.

Now imagine an alternative future in which everyone who once owned a traditional car instead has an AV. Many people without licenses also purchase AVs for their personal use, even though they haven’t had a car for years or never owned one. Passenger-miles traveled increase by 25 percent.1 AVs circle while waiting for their owners to finish shopping or running errands if no parking spaces are available, or else they run a variety of errands, ranging from delivering groceries to picking up dry cleaning, themselves. City streets become even more gridlocked.

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