Cities need to start getting ready for driverless cars now, Atkins says


It's no longer an 'if' but a 'when' driverless and connected cars are on the roads, according to Atkins' technical director Neil Thomas. 

The company, which works with the University of the West of England's VENTURER, is trying out driverless vehicles to examined their feasability in the UK.

It has launched a whitepaper series this week, which will look at the urgent need to understand the full impact of these vehicles on cities around the world and invest in adapted infrastrucure from now onwards.   

“Greater connectivity and autonomy will have a profound impact on our road, energy and communication networks. We need to determine what upgrades will be required to make our existing infrastructure smarter, and what basic principles need to be adhered to in all future design. We have the technical skills and knowledge to do this. What we’re missing is a single vision of the future and the unified approach required to realise it," added Thomas. 

Members of the Atkins Fellowship are meeting this week with clients and government to discuss the future of our cities and how they will be impacted by the advent of connected and autonomous vehicles.


The event will analyse four key themes: Infrastructure, energy, data and public perception:

Infrastructure: What action should we take now to ensure that current infrastructure is adapted and future upgrades are fit for purpose to accommodate connected and autonomous vehicles and enable economic growth for many years to come?

Energy: How can connected and autonomous vehicles  help us to meet the energy challenges of the future? 

Data: In a more connected world connected and autonomous vehicles will form part of the ‘Internet of Things’, generating vast volumes of data. What challenges do we need to overcome to turn that data into information and valuable insight that will help network and city operators maximise efficiency and drive improvement across our transport network? 

Public perception: Advocates of connected and autonomous vehicles  promise their introduction will bring wide-ranging benefits to individuals and communities. But are these vehicles being designed with people in mind? What questions should we be asking to help us ensure this new technology makes a positive difference to our lives?

Autonomy and new technology-enabled business models are not just changing the way we see the vehicle, they also have the potential to transform the way we move around, and enjoy, our streets and spaces, Atkins added.

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