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Driverless Cars Could See Wide Use in Next Ten Years

New study estimates 10-30 percent adoption by 2030s

Self Driving CarA new study by Cleveland State University researchers estimates that driverless cars would see a 10-30 percent adoption by the 2030s, with many large urban centers moving away from individually owned vehicles to a “robotaxi fleet” community transport model.

The results, published in the Journal of Sustainable Real Estate, argue that based on technology development and demand, driverless cars would begin to penetrate the market in five years with broader adoption beginning by the late 2020s. The largest percentage of use would be for large mobility fleets, owned by companies or perhaps governments, which urban citizens will be able to access and pay for with a mobile app. The study estimates that the cost per household savings would be around $5,000 per year once the technology reaches full market penetration, enough to encourage many urban households to cut back to one car.

“Driverless cars would provide significant benefits for society, including fewer traffic accidents, reduced congestion, lower automobile emissions and increased accessibility for people with disabilities,” notes Roby Simons, Professor of Urban Planning and Real Estate in CSU’s Levin College of Urban Affairs and co-author of the study. “Through this research we hope to provide a better idea of what the market will look like so governments and infrastructure managers can properly prepare, and find a use for unneeded urban parking.”

Simons and his co-authors, urban planner Alexandra Malkin and David Feltman, principal at Forest Valley Capital, point out several challenges that would need to be addressed as driverless car technology begins to come on line. First, vehicle fleets would require large remote parking accommodations for servicing and logistical positioning. In addition, personal experience and marketing would be required to encourage individuals to give up individual vehicles to travel with strangers. Finally, companies would have to invest substantial upfront costs to develop and prove out the technology, and purchase and maintain fleets. Since the technology is still in the field test stage, hiccups are expected, and cyber security is also a potential concern. 

“City stakeholders, including local planning agencies, public transit organizations and additional private companies and community organizations, would have to come together to remake cities to better meet the needs of automobile passengers, as opposed to drivers,” Simons adds. “But just as changes were made to address the changeover from horse and carriage to cars and from telephone land lines to smart phones, changes in public tastes and preferences will evolve to help drive the necessary evolution.”

The journal article, “When Would Driverless Vehicles Make Downtown Parking Unsustainable and Where Would the Driverless Car Fleet Rest During the Day,” won the 2018 Best Paper Award, presented by the Journal of Sustainable Real Estate and the American Real Estate Society.

Read the article here.