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Table 2 Benefits and threats of future mobility facilitated through AVs categorised by impact group

From: The autonomous car—a blessing or a curse for the future of low carbon mobility? An exploration of likely vs. desirable outcomes

Impact group Benefits
User Travel time is not driving time, so disutility decreases and comfort increases.
Travel time may be used for other work/leisure activities.
AVs can allow the integration of culturally diverse users in cities globally.
AVs can enhance demand for travel allowing passengers of any age to reach their destination safely.
Transport related social exclusion may be eliminated.
Government Increased safety due to less accidents (mainly in the era when only AVs will be on the roads).
More parking space will become available and it may be used for other purposes by city authorities.
If AVs are eco-friendly, there could be reduced air pollution and lower energy use from the transport sector.
Accessibility can improve for all travellers, including the elderly and disabled.
Business Significant business opportunities will arise for automotive manufacturers, particularly for conventional ones which decide to enter this innovative market.
Expanding databases and innovative use of Big Data will allow the emergence of business opportunities and new business models, creating value for stakeholders .
Logistics and supply chain business will reduce (congestion, time) costs through eco-driving, better route planning, V2x communication and platooning.
Impact group Threats
User High cost of ‘smart’ infrastructure (V2I) to accommodate AVs.
Local congestion may increase if the aggregate number of journeys increases.
Cost of emerging mobility patterns can lead to social exclusion of certain groups if high.
Identifying and assigning responsibility for car accidents may become more fuzzy.
‘Digital divide’ can lead to increased social exclusion.
Better use of travel time may increase travel time e.g., daily commute, resulting in higher aggregate energy demand at local and national level.
Widespread use of AVs can reduce walking and cycling, increasing obesity and negative health impacts.
Unintended consequences will arise such as privacy, surveillance and data management issues linked with ICT for transport or the threat of wireless hacking to gain unauthorised control of AVs.
Government The adjustment period when both conventional human driven and autonomous cars co-exist on roads could impose more car accidents.
Deciding on the optimal route will be a challenge particularly during extreme events and principles may differ across cities complicating inter-urban journeys.
Emergence of diverse technologies by competing actors may lead in lack of coordination and common legislation.
Reduced employment demand for drivers and car technicians, increasing government costs for retraining and/or unemployment benefits.
Business Better use of travel time may increase travel time to travel through routes with greater journey comfort leading to increased congestion.
Development of competing technologies by diverse actors may lead to inefficient use of resources and the evolution of competing standards internationally.
Vehicular communication network needs high transmission capacity equipment and proper penetration rate to achieve optimal transport performance.
  1. V2x stands for any type of communication from a vehicle (V) to (2) another transmitter/recipient (x)