1of12A professor at UC Santa Cruz says autonomous vehicles could more than double traffic in cities. Photo: Kurt Rogers / The Chronicle 2007 It’s the not-so-far-away future in San Francisco. One-Wheels and e-scooters litter the road. Your self-driving car has just deposited you at Union Square, and you’ve instructed it to return in an hour, after you’ve purchased the latest it-smartphone, the iPhone Z.
Your autonomous vehicle, intelligent as it is, knows finding a parking spot downtown is nearly impossible at this hour, plus parking lots are known to charge flat rates of $15 and up. Instead of parking, your car decides to cruise. It figures the gas required to circle the neighborhood a few times costs far less than a parking spot.
Your smart car is right on this point, but what it doesn’t know — or care to learn — is that cruising causes major congestion. At least that’s the prediction of transportation planner Adam Millard-Ball, an associate professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
In the latest issue of Transport Policy, Millard-Ball explores “The Autonomous Vehicle Parking Problem” : traffic. Autonomous vehicles, he hypothesizes, will become commonplace in cities over the next five to 20 years. When this happens, road congestion will invariably increase, he says.
“Even when you factor in electricity, depreciation, wear and tear, and maintenance, cruising costs about 50 cents an hour—that’s cheaper than parking even in a small town,” Millard-Ball said in a press release . “Unless it’s free or cheaper than cruising, why would anyone use a remote lot?”
Using a traffic microsimulation model and data from downtown San Francisco, Millard-Ball estimated that autonomous vehicles stand to more than double the current amount of traffic in cities. The model focused on scenarios in which a vehicle is primarily used for transportation of […]