Campuses, theme parks and other small, contained areas in warm-weather locales seem like Ground Zero for driverless cars, since they’re usually well-maintained and more predictable and mappable than wide-open spaces. Modestly-sized neighborhoods may be in the same category. Case in point: Beverly Hills would like autonomous vehicles, which could be summoned with a smartphone, to supplement its current public-transportation system.
Futurists have suggested that one day, self-driving cars might augment or even replace public transport, but for the town elders of Beverly Hills, this future is nearer than you’d think. Earlier this month, the city’s council voted unanimously to create a program to “develop autonomous vehicles as public transportation.”
The council’s vision is for self-driving vehicles to provide “on-demand, point-to-point transportation,” with citizens “requesting a ride using their smartphone.” The shuttles wouldn’t replace public transportation, but augment it, with Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch describing how autonomous vehicles would solve the “first/last mile” problem for residents using the city’s future subway — the Purple Line Extension — to get in and out of the city.
“This is a game-changer for Beverly Hills and, we hope, for the region,” said Mirisch in a press release. “Beverly Hills is the perfect community to take the lead to make this technology a reality. It is now both feasible and safe for autonomous cars to be on the road.”•
Tags: James Vincent