Tashi L. Wangchuk

December 11, 2017

Imagining the urban landscape of an AV city - Synthesis Blog

This class has really made me think about the ways in which our cities and towns might be transformed. I have realized that there are many variables that might determine what the future urban landscape might look like. It is my hope that future autonomous vehicles will be shared and work as a cheap/free public transportation system that is efficient and extremely convenient. However, there are still a lot of different directions that AVs could take, as well as a lot of considerations to think about before we fully implement this new technology.

Having a completely shared autonomous public transportation system could be incredible – anyone could get anywhere quickly and cheaply (or for free). But it makes me wonder if it might result in a loss of freedom or mobility. Cars are representative of (especially to older generations) a common coming-of-age tradition associated with increased mobility and freedom – getting a driver’s license for the first time. A huge part of getting your license as a teen, and maybe even a car, is the freedom it gives one to drive themselves anywhere.

This is one qualm I still have about self-driving cars. I also believe that it will be a big hurdle for players in the AV world to overcome. Americans in particular are generally quite attached to the concept of privately owned cars. They are symbolic of class, identity, style, and wealth for some. However, private ownership of cars has been declining with my generation. With easy ride and car sharing services like Uber and Zipcar, the need to own a car is decreasing. In my ideal world,  autonomous micro transit and autonomous light rails / other forms of public transportation would rule the roads. People would choose to walk or take public transportation because they are so convenient, efficient, and cheap, rather than take a private car. These imaginings of my ideal world of self-driving cars made me want to depict this in a non-written way.

I began to imagine what the landscape of a city could look like in a future world where all the cars are AVs operating at full capabilities and the infrastructures of cities have been updated to match the development. To me, the ideal future world of self-driving cars would operate in cities that prioritize pedestrians, have plenty of car-free open/green spaces, are dense (both for efficient delivery of resources), have mixed-uses, are walkable, and are energy efficient. 

Above is a drawing I did of a future urban landscape with autonomous vehicles.
Tashi L. Wangchuk
Interdisciplinary Studies: Engineering Psychology, Environmental Studies, & English