Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous Mobility – A Solution to Urbanization Problems?

In 2008, for the first time in the history of mankind, the urban population exceeded the number of those who lived in rural areas. The process of urbanization has been going on for centuries with no end in sight. As a result, the majority of our cities worldwide are facing challenges in consolidating quality of life on various levels.

Those eliminating the distance between themselves and cities are motivated by the reasonable prospect of wide-ranging benefits within more direct reach. However, migrating to the cities makes for a strained situation, and city planning authorities struggle to keep up with the accompanying challenges.

The recent enormous development in self-driving technology might be a very effective approach to stop this one-way “transfer of population” or even reverse the stream.

“The process of moving from A to B will no longer be the necessary effort we are trying to avoid”

With real autonomous driving, the process of moving from A to B will no longer be the necessary effort we are trying to avoid, but instead be used as productive time in many ways. As a result, our main motivation to reduce the effort it takes to reach supply of any kind (work, entertainment, etc.) may decline more and more with each further step of development. That may drastically reduce the need to move to the city, thought of as the bundled place of benefits.

Huge disadvantages of living in crowded urban areas already exist, such as housing shortages, and therefore high costs for home ownership, rented apartments, and living in general. But that obviously hasn’t stopped the process of urbanization so far, as the overall benefits seem to be dominant.

“Best of both worlds approach”

The age of autonomous door to door mobility might allow for a “best of both worlds” approach, where those living in suburbs or even rural areas, which provide enormous open space potentials, have the ability to reach all sources of education, culture or work with almost the same effort as those living nearby. This could even apply to families with lower income, as the costs for mobility are expected to decrease drastically as well.

A look ahead in a more distant future suggests that mobility might not be bound to the ground, but will take over the sky, e.g. multi-billion dollar company Uber’s work on so-called flying cars. Of course at the moment, this might not be any more than a PR stunt, but with the recent speed of development, who knows what else will be added to our future of mobility.

“Even the retail trade sector is no more dependent on physical presence”

Furthermore, autonomous mobility does not only influence passenger transportation, it fundamentally benefits the delivery of all kind of goods, driving the impact of online commerce and all sorts of internet buying (e.g. drones).

Even for the retail trade sector, a direct reach approach to their potential customers loses significance when business is no longer dependent on physical presence, and the whole purchase lifecycle is automated and digitalized. All of this might establish a very well working decentralized system of supply and demand.

“Autonomous mobility is a huge instrument to overcome the distance obstacle”

Almost how the age of motorization at the end of the last century defined a new evaluation for a relative distance between locations, autonomous door to door mobility will optimize the actual way and the sensibility of moving from A to B. It will act as a huge instrument to overcome the distance obstacle, with the power to adjust or even fully change the basic motivations of the current urbanization process.

There’s a lot more to come in the development of mobility.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.
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