Future scenarios for self-driving vehicles on the road

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Anna Pernestål Brenden
Lars-Göran Mattsson

The development in the field of self-driving vehicles is quick and many vehicle manufacturers (GM, Ford, Toyota, BMW, Audi, VW and others) say they will launch a fully self-driving vehicle on the market around 2020. Although technology development will move quickly in the coming years, big questions remain regarding; how self-driving vehicles will be received by society, where they will be allowed, if they will be used primarily as private or shared vehicles, how they will handle traffic safety, privacy and cyber-security issues, and to what extent they will influence accepted commuting time, mode choice and induced travel by car.

At the same time, long-term socio-economic effects are not primarily determined by technological advances, but mostly by the role self-driving vehicles will have in our society, that is, their effects on traffic and urban planning in general. Therefore, it is important to sketch possible future scenarios for self-driving vehicles. Based on these scenarios, a discussion can follow on how regulations and policy instruments should be used in order to maximise social benefits of self-driving vehicles.

This report describes the work with future scenarios for self-driving vehicles undertaken during the winter of 2016/2017. An analysis group consisting of five people, supported by a passenger transport expert group that met for three full-day workshops, identified both a secure development towards 2030and two uncertain axes that lead to four possible scenarios for the future with self-driving vehicles in Sweden. With participation of 40 experts from 23 transport organizations, this study is unique compared to previous scenario work concerning the development of self-driving vehicles which have been based either on literature studies or expert workshops with few researchers.

 

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