The Biggest Public Policy Opportunity of Our Lifetimes
Please note: this article is available in English and Spanish.
Over the next decade, driverless vehicles will disrupt transportation systems, causing ripple effects across numerous billion-dollar industries. Through the innovative use of public policy, advanced societies can use this mobility transformation as a keystone event to radically improve public safety and security, greatly increase cohesion among communities, and foster economic prosperity. To be clear, autonomous vehicles will become legal and ubiquitous; the public policy opportunity is about ownership.
There is no need for private ownership of autonomous vehicles. If legislators seize the opportunity to lead the driverless mobility revolution and ban private ownership, society will reap abundant returns.
First, this will require manufactures to transform their business strategies from producing goods for consumption-based markets to service-based markets. Society gains sustainability benefits here as incentives for full lifecycle producer responsibility become the norm. Existing product liability laws already hold the producer of an autonomous vehicle at fault if it causes an accident; like it or not, the introduction of autonomous vehicles will disrupt consumer insurance markets as liability shifts from the driver to the manufacturer.
This legislated liability increases the incentives for centralized standardization and fleet management, which in turn improves public safety—Google has already demonstrated that its experimental autonomous vehicle fleet is radically safer than any human driver. A shared fleet also has the potential to improve homeland security—fleet operators will need a way to confidently ensure the identity of passengers (using biometrics, for example) for billing, criminal liability, and vandalism reasons. This will, in turn, improve law enforcement’s ability to locate, detain, and securely transport criminals.
If there is no private ownership of autonomous vehicles, the vast majority of street space reserved for parking can be eliminated as non-autonomous vehicles will eventually retire from service. As a shared resource, fleet operators will seek to optimize the market and keep car supply matched with demand, so utilization could be drastically improved from the current five percent, as shown in a 2012/2013 Earth Institute and Columbia University study. In the same study, researchers found that 18,000 shared use driverless cars could replace 120,000 owner-driven vehicles and achieve wait times of less than one minute for a vehicle to arrive with 70 percent utilization of the fleet. This allows our cities to reclaim vast tracks of road space for public use—biking, walking, cafes, parks, etc. As Bogota has shown, when communities and entire cities reclaim roads for public use, crime rates drop, public health improves, social cohesion improves, and the population feels more dignity and empowerment. More public space is the rising tide that lifts all ships.
The path to this utopia will not be easy, but it is achievable with visionary leadership and strong public private partnerships. The first step would be to pilot the concept in a small city with a dense urban core, paid for by private funding (e.g., Google, GM, Nissan), foundations (e.g., Rockefeller, Ford), and/or government agencies (e.g., DOT, DHS, NTSB). There would need to be a diverse group of stakeholders at the table with a governance structure that values the qualitative and quantitative gathering of data across a range of performance and outcome metrics.
Progressive public sector officials are sure to find friends within affected industries—after all, the largest among them, the automotive industry, is being disrupted whether they like it or not and they now they have a choice be disrupted or become the disruptor. For instance, with its existing fleet services and RelayRides business units, GM will likely enjoy a first mover advantage in this new mobility marketplace. Google claims their driverless cars are less than five years away, and Nissan has set 2020 as a goal for their driverless cars to be available. The time to act is now. This is the single greatest opportunity of our lifetimes to make proactive policy decisions that will not only improve prosperity for current generations, but the prosperity of generations to come.
La mayor oportunidad de política pública durante nuestras vidas
Durante la próxima década, vehículos sin conductores interrumpirán los sistemas de transportación, lo cual causará efectos a lo largo de varias industrias de mil millones de dólares. Por el uso innovador de política pública, sociedades avanzadas pueden usar esta transformación de movilidad como un evento fundamental para mejorar radicalmente la seguridad pública, aumentar mayormente la cohesión entre comunidades, y fomentar prosperidad económica. Para ser claro, vehículos autónomos se harán legales e ubicuos; la oportunidad de política pública se trata de propiedad.
No hace falta la propiedad privada de vehículos autónomos. Si los legisladores se apoderan de la oportunidad de dirigir la revolución de movilidad sin conductores y prohíben la propiedad, la sociedad ganará devoluciones abundantes.
Primero, esto requerirá que los productores transformen sus estrategias de negocios desde producir bienes para mercados basados en el consumo hasta mercados basados en servicio. Aquí, la sociedad gana beneficios de sostenibilidad mientras incentivos para la responsabilidad del productor del ciclo entero llega a ser la norma. Los leyes de responsabilidad de producto existentes ya echan la culpa al productor del vehículo autónomo si causa un accidente; te guste o no, la introducción de vehículos autónomos interrumpirá los mercados de seguro del consumidor cuando la responsabilidad mueve desde el conductor al productor.
Esta responsabilidad legislada aumenta los incentivos de estandarización centralizada y dirección de flota, lo cual por turno mejora la seguridad pública—Google ya ha demostrado que su flota de vehículos autónomos experimental es mucho más seguro que cualquier conductor humano. Una flota compartida también tiene la potencia de mejorar seguridad nacional—los operadores de la flota necesitarán una manera de asegurar con confianza la identidad de los pasajeros (por el uso de biométricos, por ejemplo) por razones de la facturación, responsabilidad criminal, y vandalismo. Esto, por turno, mejorará la capacidad de cuerpos policiales de localizar, detener, y transportar seguramente los criminales.
Si no hay propiedad privada de los vehículos autónomos, la mayoridad del espacio en la calle reservado por aparcamiento se puede eliminar ya que vehículos no-autónomos se retirarán de servicios. Como recurso compartido, los operadores de la flota buscan optimizar el mercado y mantener que la oferta y demanda de los coches estén igualados, para que la utilización pueda ser mejorado drásticamente desde el cinco por ciento actual, como mostrado en un estudio de 2012/2013 del Earth Institute y Columbia University. En el mismo estudio, los investigadores encontraron que podrían sustituir 120,000 vehículos conducidos por sus dueños por18,000 coches compartidos y lograr un tiempo de espera de menos de un minuto con un 70 por ciento de utilización de la flota. Esto permite que nuestras ciudades reclamen vías vastas de espacios de camino para el uso público – ir en bici, caminar, cafés, parques, etc. Como Bogotá ha demostrado, cuando las comunidades y ciudades enteras reclaman caminos para el uso público, el índice de criminalidad baja, la salud pública mejora, la cohesión social mejora, y la población siente más dignidad y fortalecimiento. Más espacio público es la marea creciente que levanta todos los barcos.
El camino hasta esta utopía no será fácil, pero puede ser logrado con dirección visionaria y colaboraciones públicas/privadas fuertes. El primer paso sería iniciar el concepto en una ciudad pequeña con un centro urbano denso, pagado por financiación privada (p. ej. Google, GM, Nissan), fundaciones (p. ej, Rockefeller, Ford), y/o agencias gubernamentales (p. ej DOT, DHS, NTSDB). Haría falta un grupo de depositarios diversos en la mesa con una estructura de gobernación que valore la colección cuantitativa y cualitativa de datos por una variedad de medidas de función y resultado.
Oficiales progresivos del sector público encontrarán amigos entre industrias afectadas—después de todo, la más grande de todas, la industria automotriz, está siendo interrumpida, le guste o no, y ahora tiene que elegir entre ser interrumpida o ser la que interrumpe. Por ejemplo, con sus servicios de flota existentes y las unidades de negocio de RelayRides, es probable que GM disfrute de la ventaja de ser primero en este mercado nuevo de movilidad. Google asegura que sus coches sin conductores están a menos que cinco años, y Nissan hizo 2020 como la meta para cuando sus coches sin conductores estarán disponibles. Es la hora de actuar. Es la oportunidad mayor de nuestras vidas hacer decisiones de política proactivas que no solo mejoren la prosperidad para generaciones actuales, sino la prosperidad de generaciones que vienen.
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