It is important to build autonomous transportation systems that meet the needs of individuals while reducing congestion and pollution by sharing vehicles is the message from Princeton Professor Dr. Alain Kornhauser. Reflecting on day 1 of the Podcar City 2019 Conference, Kornhauser emphasized that whether these systems are on existing roadways or, in some cases, guideways, automating the driver promises to reduce the cost of mobility and improve safety.
Automation of mobility will change the built environment and usher in, what architect and Syracuse University Instructor David Vega-Barachowitz, terms the sixth migration in U.S history. This migration will center around mobility-oriented development, while, at the same time, the built-environment can be much more people-oriented, what Vega-Barachowith calls the “Pedestrian City.” As Kornhauser alludes to in the above interview, this new approach focuses on accessibility to jobs and destinations through multiple modes. Mobility becomes a service, which, as Vega-Barachowitz presented, has the attributes of autonomous, on-demand, real-time, flexible, dynamic and demand-driven.
As such, Mobility as a Service is more of a point-to-point offering compared to transit systems of the past. This approach could create mobility hubs, which would serve as catchments for automated and other micro-mobility networks (sounds similar to this proposal).
In many ways, the mobility hub concept parallels NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab) research presented by Sam Lott at the Podcar City 2019 Conference and its concept of Automated Mobility Districts. These are geographically confined district or campus sized areas that implement
“connected and automated vehicle (AV) technology for the purpose of publicly accessible mobility by which all of the potential benefits of a fully automated mobility service can be realized.”
Vega-Barachowith called this a “once in a lifetime opportunity to change the rules of the road” and, as such, argued for performance-based zoning to adapt to the changes in mobility. Cities are starting to make changes that will impact the built environment, such as Minnapolis’ which banned single family housing in December 2018.
The upshot is that improved mobility (along with fiber broadband) could effectively start to balance the flows of traffic, whereby people could live, work and play in the same area, without having to traverse dozens of miles to a job in another city. Instead of smart cities, Kornhauser suggests the smarts should reside in the community and that starts with creating built environments where people can gather and fulfill many of their needs without having to get in an owner-occupied car.
More importantly, automation brings the possibility of accessibility to those who otherwise wouldn’t have it or, in the case of those who have been drinking, should be chauffeured. Finally, the video ends with a brief glimpse of a company that is starting to deliver mobility as a service via apparently driverless minivans.