Driverless cars are becoming reality and over the coming years, they will start disrupting transportation systems. This will further cause ripple effects across many billion-dollar industries. Though through the innovative use of public policies, advanced societies can use this mobility transformation as a keystone event to radically improve public security and safety. They can use this policy to greatly foster economic prosperity and increase cohesion among communities. In the future, autonomous vehicles will become ubiquitous and legal and thus this is the biggest public policy opportunity of our lifetimes.

Private ownership of autonomous vehicles is not needed if legislators seize the opportunity to lead the driverless mobility revolution as well as ban private ownership. This way society will also reap abundant returns.

What Will Happen During Driverless Mobility Revolution?

We have listed here what will happen during driverless mobility revolution:

  • For the driverless mobility revolution, the manufacturers will need to alter their business strategies from producing goods for consumption-based markets to service-based markets. As incentives for full lifecycle producer responsibility become the norm, society gains sustainability benefits. If an autonomous vehicle causes an accident, the existing product liability laws already hold the producer of that vehicle at fault. Doesn’t matter if you like it or not but the introduction of autonomous vehicles will disrupt consumer insurance markets. This will happen as a result of liability shifting from the driver to the manufacturer.
  • The legislated liability increases the incentives for fleet management and centralized standardization, this in turn will improve public safety. Google has also already successfully demonstrated that its experimental autonomous vehicle fleet is radically safer than any human driver. Additionally, a shared fleet also has the potential to improve homeland security, the fleet operators will just need a way to confidently ensure the identity of passengers (like using biometrics) for criminal liability, vandalism, and billing reasons. In turn, this will improve law enforcement’s ability to detain, locate, and securely transport criminals.
  • The vast majority of street space reserved for parking can be easily eliminated if there is no private ownership of autonomous vehicles. This happens because in such a situation non-autonomous vehicles will eventually retire from service. The fleet operators will ultimately seek to optimize the market and they will keep car supply matched with demand. This will drastically improve utilization.

Also Read: Self-driving Cars: A Force for Urban Densification or Expansion?

The path of this driverless car revolution will not be easy but that doesn’t mean it’s not achievable. To be successful, it just needs strong public-private partnerships and visionary leadership. The first step towards this revolution should be to pilot this concept in a small city with a dense urban core. This pilot should be paid for by private funding (like Google, Nissan, GM, etc.),  foundations (like Ford, Rockefeller), and/or government agencies (like DHS, DOT, NTSB, etc). There will be a need for a diverse group of stakeholders at the table with a governance structure that values the quantitative as well as the qualitative gathering of data across a range of performance and outcome metrics. This revolution will be the biggest public policy opportunity of our lifetimes.


Steven Tiell is the thought leadership and strategy lead for Accenture's Technology Vision, an annual publication of technology trends that guides Accenture's own innovation agenda and the technology investment strategies of top-tier clients. Prior to joining Accenture, he consulted with corporations and public sector agencies on the use of technology to make cities more sustainable and contributed to Connected Urban Development, Urban EcoMapPlanetary SkinDialogue Cafe, and the Smart+Connected Communities Institute.

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