After an initial wave of euphoria in the mid-2010s, self-driving cars have become the object of considerable scepticism. One reason for the change in public perception is the realization that AVs are unlikely to be available at scale soon. To cut through the noise about AVs and gain an objective view of their advantages and likely effects on different cities, BCG and the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, conducted a one- year study that combined qualitative and quantitative approaches with current industry insights.
Using a sophisticated tool that can simulate 1.7 billion trips, they modeled how AVs could improve or worsen the urban environment and quality of life in five urban archetypes developed on the basis of data from more than 40 cities worldwide. The team also simulated the citywide impact of specific mobility scenarios, such as the promotion of micromobility and a strong uptake of robo-shuttles. Planners in any city worldwide can use the tool to help visualize future developments in their transportation systems.
In parallel, BCG and researchers from the University of St. Gallen asked more than 30 leading executives from other universities, cities, and transportation-related industries for their views on the key enablers, success factors, and roadblocks facing AVs.“Cities need to create a vision of where they want to be in the future and start acting now. If they do nothing, and if the growth in private car use increases in line with past trends, the urban environment is set to worsen significantly,” said Nikolaus Lang, a BCG managing director and senior partner, and leader of the firm’s Global Advantage practice worldwide.
“Our research demonstrates what types of cities will benefit most from AVs, and it examines the benefits and drawbacks of taking different policy actions. This is essential information for city planners. In cities where AVs are the best option, municipal authorities will need to collaborate with operators, manufacturers, and technology companies if they are to succeed,” said Andreas Hermann, director of the institute of customer insight at the University of St. Gallen.