Over a century in the past, the appearance of the inner combustion engine took us out of the age of the horse-drawn carriage and into the age of the car. With the horse leaving the equation, car designs began to emerge that had been oriented across the consolation and security of drivers.
Since then, society has come to simply accept a specific sort of automobile design: gas-powered, inattentive to pedestrians and different street customers, and sometimes pushed by a distracted human. Today, mobility is present process one other main transformation, and we are constructing what comes subsequent: the absolutely autonomous electrical car.
Autonomous autos (AVs) now current a uncommon alternative for transformational change by reimagining how autos are designed, how they’re used and whom they serve.
To assist this transformation, we’re saying the launch of the Coalition for Safe Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification (SAVE). SAVE’s founding members — Zoox, Nuro and Local Motors — are united round three core rules: constructing secure automated driving programs, deploying AVs on absolutely electrical platforms and incorporating new car designs that enhance mobility and entry for all.
Traditional car designs is not going to do sufficient
Today, we have congestion pushed by single-occupant car journeys, air pollution from gas-powered automobiles, inequitable entry and rising traffic fatalities. SAVE will carry policymakers, business leaders and advocates collectively to enhance our communities with autonomy — and that features rethinking the automobile.
After all, constructing an AV with none adjustments in car design is like constructing a mobile phone with a rotary dial.
SAVE’s members are designing autos for a mobility future that serves everybody. Zoox has developed an autonomous car that’s designed to be shared and accommodates over 100 safety innovations not featured in typical automobiles.
Nuro is constructing zero-occupant supply AVs designed for the protection of individuals outdoors the car, which may enhance entry to groceries in food deserts.
Local Motors is constructing a shuttle that gives first- and last-mile connections to transit, with design improvements that may enhance accessibility for individuals with disabilities.
AVs will result in car designs which are safer for everybody
The public health crisis on our roads led to an estimated 38,680 deaths final 12 months. AVs might help cut back the 94% of deadly crashes through which a essential issue is driver error or selection — drunken driving, rushing and distraction — but when autonomy is paired with new car designs, AVs will assist obtain even larger enhancements.
Today, our roads are more dangerous for pedestrians than they’ve been since 1989. Vehicles have traditionally been designed for the protection and luxury of drivers, somewhat than the individuals outdoors, which has led to ever-increasing car sizes which are more deadly for pedestrians and cyclists. Pickups and SUVs now account for about 70% of latest car gross sales yearly, and are two to 3 occasions extra prone to kill a pedestrian in collisions.
AVs current an alternative for a sea change in security for individuals outdoors autos, just as seat belts and air luggage considerably improved occupant security. A latest Virginia Tech study discovered that zero-occupant supply AVs can cut back deadly crashes and accidents by about 60%, based mostly on design alone. Additionally, new safety innovations just like the Zoox car’s exterior lighting and sound system will allow AVs to speak with pedestrians and different street customers.
Zero-emissions AVs will cut back emissions, enhance effectivity
The way forward for transportation have to be zero emissions, which is why we’re constructing AVs from the bottom as much as be absolutely electrical.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the transportation sector is the No. 1 contributor to greenhouse fuel emissions, and the air pollution it causes increases the prevalence of life-threatening childhood bronchial asthma, disproportionately affecting communities of coloration.
Yet a congested road crammed with single-occupant, gas-powered autos seems precisely the identical as one with electrical autos, which is why we additionally need to basically shift how autos are used.
The widespread deployment of electrical AVs in shared fleets, mixed with transit and lively transportation, can result in an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. Additionally, by going electrical and “batching” deliveries to a number of individuals, supply AVs may assist avoid 407 million tons of CO2 emissions from 2025 to 2035 — successfully offsetting the emissions from powering each residence within the 4 largest cities within the U.S. for a decade.
AVs ought to present accessible, equitable mobility choices
Having entry to a car makes a particular person four times more likely to have a job, and entry to inexpensive shared AV companies can significantly reduce family bills and join low-income Americans with new job alternatives.
Additionally, supply AVs might help to enhance entry to recent groceries for 14 million, or 70%, of the 20 million low-income Americans dwelling in meals deserts.
Vehicles have historically been designed across the able-bodied, limiting the mobility choices accessible to individuals dwelling with disabilities and older adults. The introduction of AVs provides us one other probability to design autos which are accessible for the 25.5 million Americans with travel-limiting disabilities, which may result in an estimated 2 million new employment alternatives for individuals with disabilities.
Modernizing laws will unlock AVs’ full advantages
This 12 months, Congress is contemplating a generational reinvestment in our nation’s infrastructure that can fund sorely wanted repairs and speed up shopper adoption of electrical autos. But utilizing new roads in the identical approach is not going to be sufficient.
Congress should seize the chance to modernize federal insurance policies and reimagine how our roads are used. Updating federal car requirements, whereas sustaining their security intent, would foster the deployment of AVs that ship on safer roads, expanded entry, and a extra sustainable and environment friendly transportation sector.
Otherwise, we’ll discover ourselves as soon as once more kicking the can down freshly paved roads.