Driverless cars meets the sharing economy

Signal of change / Driverless cars meets the sharing economy

By Louis Hadley / 20 Jan 2015

David Day Lee, a graduate of the Art Centre of Design,Pasadena,California has designed a membership-based shared transit system for driverless automobile technology.

The system, called CUVE, is simple yet effective. Customers use an app to request a car to take them to a destination, much like a taxi. However, because many people will share the same route or a part of a route it can pick up and drop off multiple people at once. Being people-centric, rather than having fixed routes, means it can be both more efficient than a taxi and yet more flexible than a bus, while distributing the expense beyond the individual. The autonomous vehicles won't face the problems of current vehicle sharing schemes, such as needing to be redistributed due to clustering in certain areas.

A recent study at MIT's Aero/Astro department, led by Professor Emilio Frazzoli, estimated that a fleet of 300,000 autonomous shared vehicles could serve the entire population of Singapore - almost 6 million - with a maximum 15 minute waiting time during peak hours.

Image: Flickr

Credit: Joisey Showaa

So what?

Such a scheme has a number of potential benefits, beyond the individual’s experience. By reducing the number of vehicles on the road, it could ease congestion, improve air quality and cut carbon emissions. Automated cars are also expected to improve road safety, and require fewer parking spaces, as they bypass the need for drivers’ breaks.

Daniel Fagnant and Kara Kockelman of the University of Texas tried to tally up many of these myriad benefits in a paper for the Eno Center for Transportation. They estimated that if 10% of the vehicles on US roads were automated, the country could save more than $37 billion a year due to fewer deaths, less fuel, more free time, and so on.


What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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