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These plans will be in sharp focus later this month at the city’s second annual Autonomy event, a conference where innovators, cities and consumers meet to change the way people get around. ‘Every inch of that road surface has to be maximised,’ Ross Douglas, who runs Autonomy, told the Financial Times about the plans for the French capital. ‘The first thing the city will want to do is reduce the 150,000 cars parked on the street doing nothing. Why should you occupy 12 square metres to move yourself? Why should you use a big diesel engine to pollute me and my family?’
In tandem with driverless vehicles, the Grand Paris Express will also help wean Paris commuters off private cars. This will involve a group of new rapid transit lines being built in the île-de-France region, bringing 68 new stations online. Planners hope the Olympics will help ensure that project is delivered on time. The games will also see driverless shuttle buses circulate along main routes, and the vehicles are already being trialled in the business district, La Défense.
Autonomy’s role in all of this is to bring together planners and innovators from across Europe to help create a mobility tipping point to a shared, autonomous future in European cities by 2020, reaching critical mass by 2025. T&E will attend with a keen eye on whether planners intend to follow four key steps to ensure that in the transition to shared vehicles the legacies of car domination are progressively erased.
T&E’s clean vehicles director, Greg Archer, commented: ‘An autonomous car future will arrive quickly but the vehicles need to be shared and electric. There will be enormous implications for employment and the cost of travel potentially creating additional road trips. We need to begin a serIous dialogue on how to maximise the upsides and manage the challenges of automation, and Autonomy provides such an opportunity.’