There is a growing consensus that autonomous vehicles will first be deployed in city centers where there will be an appetite for them in ridesharing services, the need for them to reduce congestion, and sufficiently detailed urban mapping to support the early stages of the technology. But not all cities have the same demographics and travel patterns, which means some are better situated to host the first wave of AVs once they are commercial.
Shared cars “will be a highly effective deployment of autonomous vehicles, where shorter, intra-city trips can maximize occupancy and efficiency, which means safer, faster and more convenient travel for users.”
INRIX, an analytics firm which collects historical and real-time traffic data, recently released a report looking at what cities are best suited to initiate driverless cars. In its analysis, INRIX analyzed travel patterns throughout one year, looking at about 1.3 billion trips from the top 50 U.S. cities. To further its analysis, INRIX included the number of trips by connected cars, the availability of parking spots, and demographic trends to help it come up with a scoring system to identify which cities are optimized for this purpose. INRIX looked at trips that began and ended within a 25-mile radius of each downtown and compared this to aggregate regional trips to figure out how much travel is intra-city. After that, INRIX detailed the percentage of a city’s intra-city trips which are 10 miles or less. By combining these metrics, the firm was able to put together its scoring system. For a deeper look at INRIX’s methodology, see the report here.
Avery Ash, autonomous vehicle market strategist at INRIX, stressed the importance of shared cars, saying they “will be a highly effective deployment of autonomous vehicles, where shorter, intra-city trips can maximize occupancy and efficiency, which means safer, faster and more convenient travel for users.”
At the top of the list is New Orleans, followed Albuquerque, Tuscon, Portland, and Omaha. Here is a list that rounds out the top 10:
How cities should plan for AVs
INRIX flags the fact that autonomous vehicles will not necessarily be a net gain for society—it is a technology that must be harnessed to create optimal impact.
The report also highlights how cities should use Big Data to mobilize driverless cars in their core urban areas. By looking at trip, parking, and demographic data, cities can mark deployment areas where AVs will be immediately effective and can push for them to operate in those sections first. In a granular assessment, INRIX specifically analyzed the conditions in New York, San Francisco, and Austin, three cities that have said they are eager to deploy AVs. INRIX used this information to visualize areas in the cities likely to benefit most from AVs.
In the maps below, INRIX shows in the darker sections the areas in New York City that would benefit the most from AVs.
The main crux of the report is to help cities use big data to help them plan deployment of the new technology in an effective way so it doesn’t backfire for governments, businesses, and consumers. However, INRIX also flags the fact that autonomous vehicles will not necessarily be a net gain for society—it is a technology that must be harnessed to create optimal impact. “It is crucial for public officials to proactively plan for autonomous vehicles using a data-driven approach aimed at tackling specific urban area needs,” wrote INRIX. “Without smart planning, this technology could clog roads, increase pollution and further stratify mobility options.”