The Driverless Commute: Is it still too soon for parking lot deployment? South Korea plans massive smart-road investment ahead of AVs; and European carmakers beginning to bristle at tough regs

Welcome again to the Driverless Commute, presented by Dentons, a digest clocking the most important technical, legal and regulatory developments shaping the path to global autonomy.

1. Parking lots: the next great frontier

A decade after Google launched its famous self-driving moonshot, the central question of the technology’s readiness and safety remains an unresolved scramble of ethics and profit.

No one—not car makers, technologists, regulators, or consumer safety advocates—can agree on specific standards of accepted safety for the open-road testing of autonomous vehicles.

  • The still-high motor vehicle fatality rate, which has been on steady decline in the United States since the 1960s, belies a truth about driving: it’s already a remarkably safe activity.
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The Driverless Commute: Cities aren’t planning for AV deployment and that’s a problem; NHTSA is weighing rewrites of car and commercial vehicle rules; US lags global rivals over lack of national legislation

1. Urban (not)planning

Cities were once highly compact and walkable places that blended residences and workplaces and where people commanded primacy. But that was before the automobile.

Cities were once highly compact and walkable places that blended residences and workplaces and where people commanded primacy. But that was before the automobile.

Now, the modern American city is nothing if not an ecosystem in service of these two-ton forces of congestion. Add up all the 18-lane highways and surface streets, the sprawling blacktop parking lots and sky-high decks, and you find that more than 60 percent of some cities’ precious downtown real estate has been devoted in some way to cars.

Depending on your preferred expert, autonomous vehicles will either reverse or accelerate the very worst symptoms of car-oriented urban planning: congestion, pollution, sprawl.

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