The CoEXist project publishes an “Automation-Ready Framework” with the aim of supporting local authorities in reducing uncertainties and building up the capability to make structured and informed decisions about the comprehensive deployment of Connected & Automated Vehicles (CAVs).
Automation in cities: uncertainties…
Many uncertainties regarding the deployment of CAVs in urban areas make it difficult for cities to plan correctly for their arrival. After the initial technological euphoria that predicted the deployment of CAVs by the end of the decade, most of the stakeholders readjusted their predictions regarding the year of massive introduction of CAVs and even questioned the relevance and/or the technical possibility of introducing automated vehicles in urban environment.
The initial fear that cities will be overrun by this technology has not materialised, yet, but this is not a justification for local authorities to continue with a “wait and see approach”. The time should be wisely used to better prepare for the deployment of CAVs – which will certainly come. They will have significant impacts on most transport and urban planning related activities of a city. The Polis policy paper on “Road Vehicle Automation and Cities and Regions” provides a structured overview of the most pressing potential impacts resulting from the deployment of CAVs, in particular on road safety, traffic efficiency, infrastructure, socio-economic aspects, travel behaviour and spatial planning. There is a high degree of uncertainty surrounding the exact impacts as nobody, at this stage, can really predict how the technology will be used and whether the positive aspects will outweigh the negative ones.
… and need for action
To ensure the roll out of CAVs is in line with sustainable urban mobility goals, local authorities will have to play a key role and should take the lead with proactive planning approaches. This begins with planning for the introduction of CAVs as early as possible, to minimise the potential negative impacts and more importantly make the most of the opportunity to influence the paradigm shift into a more sustainable urban mobility vision. The UITP Policy Brief on ‘Autonomous vehicles: a potential game changer’ clearly sets out that cities need to now foster a culture of sharing to avoid single occupancy or empty CAVs in city centres in the future. An uncontrolled deployment of CAVs in cities could lead to conflicts between CAV users and non-users due to opposing transport planning needs of liveable versus CAV-friendly cities.
“The first step is always the hardest”
Cities are unsure about what the first step towards automation-readiness could be and are careful about not making any mistakes. The result is that that many local authorities are doing very little or nothing and are therefore losing precious time to prepare.
In this context, the objective of the automation-ready framework is to support local authorities in reducing uncertainties and building up the capability to make structured and informed decisions about the comprehensive deployment of CAVs.
A three-step process
This will be achieved by presenting a set of measures implemented in three phases, which can guide local authorities in becoming automation-ready:
- Automation Awareness Creation
- Automation Strategy Formulation / Planning for automation-readiness
- Implementation of Automation-Ready Measures
The different stages do not correspond to a time period as different cities may be in a different phase depending on local circumstances. The phases can be overlapping, parallel and interlinked. The automation-ready framework aims to reduce uncertainty as cities go through each of the phases.
For each phase, a set of measures are recommended to facilitate the reduction of uncertainties and to ensure a smooth transition into the sustainable deployment of CAVs incities. Also, the technological scope of the framework aims to provide recommendations that are applicable to different European cities, which will experience a wide range of CAV deployment due to unique local circumstances with regard to the mode share between privately, shared or collective CAVs.
A first version of the Automation-Ready Framework is available here.
As the project will develop, updated versions of the document will be made available on the CoEXist website.