Autonomous Vehicles – Questions and Answers

Q) Can I take a car into the country?

A) Yes. Initially all cars will be able to switch between the autonomous mode and the driven mode. So you will be able to take over the driving when you leave the city.

Q) What will I do with the things I keep in my car now?

A) There will be “cases’ that you can keep at home, these will clip onto the back of the car. You can store the things you need in the country, like your walking boots.

Q) I might want a car in an emergency; will owning my own car be quicker?

A) You will be able to have a car delivered to you in 5 minutes. Most people take that long to get out of the house anyway in an emergency. You will be able to alert the system to your emergency and gain preferential passage through the city, effectively delivering a better service.

Q) Will it put the taxi driver out of work?

A) The short answer is yes. But Uber is making inroads into the taxi business at the moment and in a few years Uber expects to be providing autonomous taxis. So the work will go anyway. However this mobility service will need people to run it and we could give ex taxi drivers priority in the selection process.

Q) Will the system create more jobs?

A) It will need to employ some people but it unlikely to produce a net growth in employment. Unless new services grow up around the driverless cars, like a service to our tourists giving them access to a remote tour guide who can talk to them, in their own language, as they travel around Edinburgh.

Q) Will it reduce traffic on the road?

A) We expect people to still need to make the same amount of journeys and that we could need the same amount of vehicles in motions at any one time. However the system will encourage people to use an improved public transport system, which could reduce the traffic. But people excluded from using cars at the moment either because they can’t afford a car or they are disabled may take advantage of the new service and increase the traffic. But either way the management system will reduce congestion on the road by getting the cars moving more efficiently through junctions and travelling closer together using less road space.

Q) Will it reduce pollution?

A) Yes. Not only in our city by switching to electric cars but around the world by reducing the number of cars that need to be manufactured. Transport currently contributes around 30% of greenhouse gases.

Q) Will I need to sell my car?

A) No, but you will not be able to keep it within the city. You will need to park it in the storage zone on the edge of the city and only use it if you drive off into the country.

Q) How would emergency vehicles fit into the system?

A) They would be electric and linked to the same system but they would also have drivers. The system would recognise when they needed priority passage and pull all other transport out of the way, cutting the time it takes to get someone to hospital or the police and fire service to the site of the emergency.

Q) Will it cause an increase in the demand for electricity that could overburden our supply?

A) It will increase the demand for electricity. However this could be provided by renewable sources like solar PV cells and wind power stationed near the car storage areas at the edge of our city. The car batteries would provide a good method of decentralised power storage.

Q) How would trades people like electricians, plumbers and builders who need to keep the tools of their trade in their vans cope?

A) They would be able to keep their commercial vans, but to gain higher levels of safety in Edinburgh that would be linked into the driverless software system.

Q) How would the system treat delivery Vehicles?

A) Initially delivery vehicles would be exempt.In the longer term the big trucks that do so much damage to our roads will be stopped at the city boundaries where they would decant their loads to smaller electric vehicles specifically designed to go into the city between the hours of 9 and 11 at night and 4 to 6 in the morning.

Q) How do you deal with all the people who come to Edinburgh for shopping, or business etc., for whom shifting to driverless vehicles will impede their activities substantially?

A) Visitors to Edinburgh approaching in their own vehicle will be able to change to an Autonomous Vehicle at the edge of the city gaining access to the same services as residents. They will pay usage charges and be able to get around the city quicker without having to worry about parking.

Q) Can Edinburgh Afford to invest £560m + in this scheme

A) We can’t afford not to address the environmental issue. Financially each car owner currently pays over £600 a year just to cover Insurance, road tax and parking; diverting these payements to this scheme would contribute £84m a year. Estimating current drivers do just 2000 miles each year within the city boundaries and charging this at a modest £2 a mile would bring in £560m a year. There are other costs we need to take into account but the point is that Edinburgh is a wealthy city and a lot of cash in spent on an inefficent personal transport sytem, it should not be beyond our wits to refocus the current expenditure more effectively.

Q) How can you be sure there will be sufficient availability in peak times?

A) The best estimate is that we will need 20% of the current vehicle stock and this is calculated to service peak times. During non peak demand more of the AVs will return to the parking locations. Over time with better information we will be able to fine tune the number of AVs the city needs.

Q) How do you integrate people who have cars already into this? Disability, delivery needs, etc., and keep safety levels high with the AVs.

A) Initially this class of vehicle owners would be exempt. They would drive their vehicles as normal and the AVs would recognize them. Over time these vehicle would be upgrades to AVs.

Q) Can you summaries the Pros and Con of moving to driverless cars owned by the city?

A) See Pros and Cons.