Civic News

What could DC look like when self-driving cars roam free?

Washingtonian talked with some experts.

A (cute lil') self-driving car. (Photo by Flickr user smoothgroover22, used under a Creative Commons license)
There are two main theories when it comes to self-driving cars and their impact on cities.

The first is that, given ubiquitous self-driving car technology, many city-dwellers would move back to the suburbs. It’d be easy — they wouldn’t have to drive there themselves. In this theory, cities would empty out at least somewhat. The other theory holds the opposite — that people will stay in the city and the city will become a nicer place to live. Less traffic, fewer parking lots, etc.

So what does the automated future hold for Washington, D.C.?

A recent Washingtonian article explores both theories, and the impact of self-driving cars on real estate, with a collection of experts. Though it ultimately doesn’t conclude anything, these discussions are worthwhile as we look toward a more autonomous future.

Read the full story

And while the article points out that the self-driving utopia concept is a long way off, the D.C. government has already expressed interest in grappling with the costs and benefits of this ideal. In January Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute announced the addition of five cities to a “global initiative to help city leaders plan and prepare for the emergence of autonomous vehicles” — and among those cities? D.C., of course.

The goal for this cohort of 10 cities, which also includes cities like London, Tel Aviv and Austin, is to “produce a set of principles and tools that cities around the world can use to chart their own paths forward with the new technology.”

We’re curious to see what this’ll look like.

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