WASHINGTON DC–As self-driving vehicles begin to transform the way people get around, urban planners around the country are beginning to think about how they will remake cities and change the way we live.
Not since the Model T replaced the horse and buggy have transportation and cities faced such an extensive transformation. Many planners say they see an opportunity to prevent — and correct — the 20th-century mistakes of the auto’s reign: congestion, pollution, sprawl and roads designed to move vehicles rather than people.
“In one way, cars kind of happened to cities,” said Brian T. Kenner, the former deputy mayor for planning and economic development for the District, who recently left his job with the city to work for Amazon.
“There were a lot of lessons learned. . . . We know autonomous vehicles are going to happen in the future — one question is how quickly — but we want to make sure we’re at least thinking about the impacts they could have on the built environment,” Kenner said.
SmartCity planners say that vehicle to vehicle communications is key to establishing autonomous driving networks, as is smart-city infrastructure. Intelligent braking systems are key to making this vision happen.