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Urban Mobility System Upgrade:
How shared self-driving cars could change city traffic

Go to report:
Urban Mobility System Upgrade: How shared self-driving cars could change city traffic





What if all car trips in a city were undertaken by a fleet of fully coordinated self-driving vehicles? In light of rapid urbanisation, the development of self-driving cars and a “shared economy” (based on optimising usage of spare capacity), we investigate the potential impacts of a radical upgrade to today’s urban mobility system.


We explore this question on the basis of detailed mobility data including origin, destination and timing of all trips for a mid-sized European city. We developed a model to test various alternative transport system configurations that nonetheless would provide the same level of mobility (locations and timing) as today. We explore two different self-driving vehicle concepts – “TaxiBots” which can be shared simultaneously by several passengers, while “AutoVots” pick-up and drop-off single passengers sequentially. We look at two different time periods (24 hr. average and peak-hour only), and model scenarios with and without high-capacity (HC) public transport (in the form of rail or bus rapid transit). We report impacts on car numbers, volume of travel, congestion and use of space.

What we found

  • The same mobility can be delivered with many fewer cars...
  • ...but the overall volume of car travel will likely increase...
  • ...though congestion can be significantly reduced
  • Reduced parking needs will free up significant public and private space
  • Ride-sharing vs. car-sharing: TaxiBots replace more cars than AutoVots
  • Public transport will have an impact on both self-driving fleet requirements and volume of travel
  • Managing the transition will be challenging

Policy Insights

  • The impact of self-driving shared fleets is significant but is sensitive to policy choices and deployment scenarios
  • Actively managing freed capacity and space is still necessary to lock-in benefits
  • Road safety will likely improve Environmental benefits will depend on vehicle technology
  • New car models and business models will be required
  • Public transport, taxi operations and urban transport governance will have to adapt
  • Mixing shared self-driving fleets with traditional cars will not deliver the same benefits as full fleet deployment, but remains attractive

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