David Begg has prepared a useful report on the prospects for driverless vehicles, particularly in London. Driverless trains are already with us and could be more generally deployed as rail routes are upgraded, with useful cost savings. Driverless cars are on the way, but the impact in urban settings is less clear, particularly the effect on congestion. Driverless cars could make safer and more efficient use of road space through reduced headways and less need for parking spaces, but could also boost car use through increasing the attractiveness of the car for urban trips, in the way rail travel has become more attractive as a place to work while on the move.
I’m a bit sceptical about the likely uptake of driverless cars, which I see as effectively taxis with robot drivers – useful but essentially an incremental improvement, not a game-changer. We shall see.