A Seattle-area firm has listed Portland among the top 10 U.S. cities ready to pioneer the adoption of self-driving cars.
INRIX, based in Kirkland, Washington, studies connected car services and transportation analytics. INRIX believes that ride-sharing with autonomous vehicles can improve personal mobility, traffic congestion, and parking availability.
"Shared-use vehicles will be a highly effective deployment of autonomous vehicles, where shorter, intra-city trips can maximize occupancy and efficiency, which means safer, faster and more convenient travel for users," says Avery Ash, autonomous vehicle market strategist at INRIX.
According to INRIX, Portland is the fourth most-ready city for autonomous ride sharing. The top three cities were New Orleans, Albuquerque, and Tucson. To reach their conclusion, INRIX studied a year's worth of travel data from the 50 largest cities in America. Among the factors in their analysis, INRIX focused on the length of commutes, the number of people under age 17 and over 65 in the community, and average income levels.
The INRIX report is designed to help cities prepare for the advent of autonomous vehicles. According to INRIX, targeted development and planning can maximize the potential benefits of autonomous vehicles. Benefits may include reducing congestion and air pollution, expanding mobility to underserved and lower income populations, and reducing cost-intensive capital infrastructure improvements.
One key benefit of autonomous cars is that they are much more likely to be electric or hybrid-powered rather than use a traditional gasoline engine. For urban driving, the cost per trip is lower with electric cars, and autonomous vehicles can be programmed to recharge themselves without human intervention.
Also, because autonomous cars performing ride sharing services will rarely park, fewer parking spaces will be required for the same number of commuters. "Up to 30 percent of urban traffic congestion is caused by drivers looking for parking," the INRIX report states.
Finally, autonomous ride sharing may also be a benefit to people who do not drive, or who would give up vehicle ownership expenses if a feasible alternative was available. The cost of autonomous ride sharing is expected to be lower than the cost of maintaining an automobile.