City planning needed as 60% of consumers expect driverless revolution

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The age of autonomous vehicles is fast approaching, and city leaders need to take steps to prepare as the disruptive technology becomes a reality, according to new survey results by the World Economic Forum released on Tuesday, Nov. 24.


Nearly 60% of consumers reported willingness to travel in a fully self-driving vehicle (SDV), and cities expect shared SDVs to be more common in the next 10 years.

In the consumer survey among 5,500 respondents in 10 countries, acceptance is highest in emerging markets such as China, India and the United Arab Emirates, with about 50% in the US and the UK; acceptance rates were lowest in Japan and Germany.

As part of a project, the World Economic Forum also conducted interviews with over 20 city policy-makers and transport authorities from cities such as Dubai, Helsinki, New York, Amsterdam, Singapore, and Toronto about their expectations for SDVs.

The survey showed that most city authorities believe that applications like shared self-driving vehicles are coming very quickly and will have the potential to be the last-mile solution for public transport.

Nevertheless, most cities have yet to integrate SDV technology into their future mobility plans.

?Many cities aren?t yet seeing how the programs of today such as car sharing and smart parking, might provide an essential backbone for shared self-driving vehicle programs in the future,? said Alex Mitchell, head of the automotive industry at the World Economic Forum.

For cities that have started planning, trials with SDVs are often the first step to test their impact on urban mobility. Such trials are ongoing in Singapore, and are under way in Gothenburg, (Sweden) and Milton Keynes (UK).

For the development of self-driving cars, 46% of consumers want traditional car manufacturers to play a leading role; 69% of those consumers preferring a car manufacturer would like to see technology players provide their relevant expertise.

The central role of the car manufacturers was most important to consumers in France, Germany, and Japan — all traditional centers for car manufacturing. Globally, two-thirds of consumers expect self-driving vehicles to be electric or hybrid.

?This survey is reassuring news for the traditional automotive companies; consumers trust them to play a leading role in the roll-out of SDVs,? said Nikolaus Lang, a senior partner at the Boston Consulting Group and main knowledge collaborator of the report.

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