TECH

How More Self-Driving Cars Could Make Traffic Worse And Cost Us More Money

That Utopian ride sharing future? Australia says 'yeah, nah'.

25/09/2017 11:52 AM AEST | Updated 25/09/2017 11:52 AM AEST
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More traffic? No thanks.

In a potential hitch to the rapidly approaching utopian future where everybody shares self-driving cars, a new study shows most Australians just don't want to do it -- and it's an attitude that could end up costing us more money.

While we're looking forward to self-driving cars, transport experts and the motor industry may have got it wrong about our attitudes to sharing vehicles, according to the University of Sydney Business School's latest Transport Opinion Survey.

That means road congestion in major cities is unlikely to ease with the arrival of self-drive cars and could be worse than it is today, the quarterly survey found.

The results of the survey, known as TOPS, have prompted suggestions that the government could have to impose a levy on the use of private cars in order to combat increasing congestion.

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The empty cockpit of an autonomous car

The survey found one in four participants would buy a self-drive car for family use if they were available, but only one-third of these adopters would lease their vehicles to other travellers when it was not in use.

Forty percent of participants also said that they would probably use their cars more as travelling became easier while more than thirty percent said they would use their car rather than use some public transport.

No survey participants expected their daily travel to remain the same in the driver-less era.

"The survey suggests a strong uptake which is encouraging at this stage in the debate on the future of driver-less vehicles," said Professor David Hensher, director of Sydney Uni's Institute of Transport and Logistic Studies.

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The Smart concept autonomous car Vision EQ fortwo model is presented during the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany September 12, 2017.

"However the real challenge is getting society to become more sharing either by allowing others to use their cars or through a third party mobility plan."

He said pundits promoting the virtues of driver-less cars were suggesting that they would contribute to a significant reduction in traffic congestion.

"Our findings appear contrary to that view," he said.

"We now need to contemplate how society more broadly and government might respond through new laws ensuring that disruptive transport technologies serve the public while managing their negative impacts through various measures including a private car use levy."

In March a survey by the U.S. agency AAA found half of drivers aren't comfortable sharing the road with a self-driving car.

Other surveys show some drivers feel unease about getting in the cars.

None-the-less, carmakers and technology companies are pushing ahead with workable models as well as exciting concept vehicles.

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