Future scenarios for self-driving vehicles in Sweden

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Anna Pernestål Brenden
Lars-Göran Mattsson

The question is not if, but rather when SDVs will be common on our streets and roads, and if they will change our way of living, and if so, how? As we are in a potential mobility shift, and decisions made today will affect the future development, understanding possibilities and challenges for the future is important for many stakeholders. To this end a scenario-based future study was performed to derive a common platform for initiation of future research and innovation projects concerning SDVs in Sweden.

A motivation for the study is to shed light on how demography, geography and political landscape can affect the development of new mobility services. Since there are many different forces that drive the development, often uncertain and sometimes in conflict with each other, a scenario planning approach was chosen. The work has been performed by an expert group and a smaller analysis team.

The expert group has involved nearly 40 persons from 20 transport organizations, including public authorities, lawyers, city planners, researchers, transport service suppliers, and vehicle manufacturers. The expert group met three times, each time focusing on a specific theme:

  1. trend analysis,
  2. defining scenario axes of uncertainty, and
  3. consequence analysis.

The uncertainties that were identified as most important for the development of SDVs in Sweden are:

  1. whether the sharing economy becomes a new norm or not, and
  2. whether city planners, authorities and politicians will be proactive in the development of cities and societies or not, especially regarding the transportation system.

This led to four scenarios:

  1. “Same, same but all the difference” – a green, individualistic society,
  2. “Sharing is the new black” – a governmentally driven innovation society based on sharing,
  3. “Follow the path” – an individualistic society based on development in the same direction as today, and
  4. “What you need is what you get” – a commercially driven innovation society where sharing is a key.

In the paper, we describe the scenarios and the process to derive them in more detail. We also present an analysis of the consequences for the development of SDVs in the four scenarios, including predictions concerning pace of development, level of self-driving, fleet size, travel demand and vehicle kilometers travelled. The paper also includes a discussion and comparison with other studies on the development of SDVs in the US, Europe and Asia.

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