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Will Self-driving Cars Create Urban Sprawl All Over Again? List of States Legal to Test Driverless Cars, Federal Test Sites, & Studies Show Auto Insurance Way Down w/ Autonomous Vehicles

Cars have always had a huge influence on city planning. They have changed the look of cities in the past, and will do that in the future, too. About half a century ago, as car ownership in the Untied States started to increase, more and more people began moving to the suburbs, which helped reduce population density in city centers.

Changes & Infastructure Needed for Driverless Cars

This meant that the traffic infrastructure in cities had to be changed and they became less auto-oriented. But, in the past decade or so, the trend has changed and an increasing number of people have moved back to cities, and now, over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas.

Now, as autonomous driving technology advances, the question is how driverless cars will affect the way cities look.

List of Companies With Driverless Vehicles in Development

RankCompanyPlaceYear Tests Started / Full Autonomy
1Google (Waymo)California2009 / 2014
2UberPennsylvania, Arizona, California2015 / 2019
3TeslaTexas, California, Arizona2015 / 2020
4HondaCalifornia2016 / 2020
5Mercedes-BenzEurope, Pennsylvania, Arizona, & California2014 / 2020
6BMWCzech Republic2014 / 2021
7AudiNew York, California, & Arizona2014 / 2019
8DelphiSingapore2015 / 2022
9FordArizona, Michigan, California2007 / 2021
10HyundaiSouth Korea2016 / 2030
11General MotorsSan Francisco & Arizona2014 / 2020
12VolvoChina, Arizona, & Gothenburg2015 / 2021
13Nissan / RenaultJapan, China, Europe, & New Mexico2012 / 2020
14AppleArizona2015 / 2020

Check out Google’s self-driving car in the video below:

Driverless/Autonomous Vehicles Mainstream 20 Years From Now?

Driverless cars are expected to become mainstream within the next 15 – 20 years, and they will obviously improve traffic safety, reduce air pollution, as well as fuel consumption.

These are the most significant benefits cities will get from cars that can drive themselves. On the other hand, they are expected to help encourage urban sprawl, or reshape cities as mentioned in a New Times article, which may have a negative environmental and economic impact.

Huge Savings in Auto Insurance Costs Illustrated

This graph shows how much auto insurance will go down with driverless vehicles. 60 percent or more for most models.

As illustrated by the graph there are big savings in auto insurance costs with autonomous vehicles.

Americans Showing Less Interest In Driving?

In recent years, less and less Americans have shown interest in owning and driving cars, and have been increasingly using public transportation or other alternative forms of transportation.

Top US Cities For Driverless Car Now

1Google*San Francisco, CA
2UberPittsburg, PA
3NavyaLas Vegas, NV
4NuTonomyBoston, MA
5Google*Austin, TX
6Google*Phoenix, AZ
7Google*Kirkland, WA
8Google*Chandler, AZ

*2016 Google transitioned to company Waymo a subsidiary of Alphabet.

Federal Driverless Car Test Sites

1City of Pittsburgh and the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute
2Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership
3U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center
4American Center for Mobility (ACM) at Willow Run
5Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) & GoMentum Station
6San Diego Association of Governments
7Iowa City Area Development Group
8University of Wisconsin - Madison
9Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners
10North Carolina Turnpike Authority

Public Transportation is Appealing to Younger Generations

Today, a lot of people, especially the younger population, are choosing to live in city centers, where they can walk to work, or take the bus or ride the subway, in an effort to avoid frustrating traffic jams, road rage and contribute to reducing CO2 emissions.

This graph illustrates how many autonomous vehicles will be on the road in 2020, 2030, 2040, to 2050.

However, autonomous cars can turn out to be quite appealing to those who don’t like driving. These vehicles will be intelligent, able to park themselves, avoid collisions, as well as traffic congestion.

Benefits of Driverless Cars

They will also give you the opportunity to do some work, make phone calls, or simply relax while traveling, as you won’t have to keep your hands on the wheel at all times, and you’ll be able to use the time you spend in your car to do something more productive.

That’s why people might start showing more interest in driving, which in turn, might motivate them to move to the suburbs. At the moment, commutes are pretty frustrating, making people spend hours and hours in their cars each and every day, stuck in traffic, which doesn’t leave them enough time to take care of all the other important stuff.

List of States Legal for Driverless Vehicles

This graph illustrates which states allow public testing of driverless vehicles.

Table – States Legal for Public Road Test of Driveless Vehicles

3District of Columbia
7North Dakota

Additional Technology/Safety Information

Apps to Help Curb Texting & Driving
Accident Investigations
Safe Hybrid Vehicles
Take Charge of Car Theft
Vehicle w/ the Best Technology Features
1st 24 Hours after a Car Accident
Future of V2V Vehicle to Vehicle Communications

Final Thoughts

If you have a self-driving car, your commute will be much more bearable, travel times will be reduced significantly, and you will be able to navigate through traffic more easily, so living in the suburbs will make more sense.

With all this in mind, it’s highly likely that driverless cars are going to create urban sprawl all over again, which could lead to decreased use of public transport, but it will also probably result in more practical use of public spaces in cities.

Jordan Perch

Jordan Perch

Jordan Perch is an automotive fanatic and “safe driving” specialist. His expertise includes subjects like traffic regulations and green car technologies. He is a writer for DMV.com, which is a collaborative community designed to help ease the stress and annoyance of “dealing with the DMV”.

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