With the attention around AVs (Autonomous Vehicles) usually going to the latest technology developments — or the latest setbacks — in the space, it may be easy for some to forget the true potential of autonomous mobility.
Hosted in Chicago last week, the Shared Use Mobility Summit (SUMC) centered on what start-ups, local governments and various stakeholders are doing to expand the benefits of various mobility innovations — including autonomous vehicles .
Not just safety — also access
At the heart of the summit lay the question of how to maximize the benefits of mobility innovations, going beyond safety and sustainability. Many discussions touched on greater access to transportation for a diverse array of communities and their members.
We’ve highlighted before how autonomous mobility is a great fit for improving mobility access for the elderly, and we expect AV companies to continue progressing on that front. Taking out the human driver doesn’t just eliminate human error to make roads safer. It allows vehicles travel further, more frequently and more affordably — with broad segments of society standing to benefit.
Also attending the summit were advocates for segments that have usually found themselves underserved: the visually impaired, veterans, people with different abilities who have difficulty driving alone, and more.
Healthcare advocates also shared their perspective. They highlighted how even today, through shared mobility, people can afford more frequent trips to hospitals, whether it’s for routine or emergency care.
It is easy to take for granted how effortlessly many of us commute, and easy to forget what a challenge it can be for others. It’s also easy to forget that behind every passenger trip there is a human story.
Many stakeholders, coordinated efforts
Partnerships and projects involving various stakeholders — startups, large employers in city centers, policymakers concerned with job access, non-profits — shared their progress.
The policymakers who supported the first driverless vans in the hot Arizona desert shared the stage with the tech companies launching soon-to-be driverless shuttles in the Rockies. A patchwork of companies and local authorities shared opportunities, concerns and potential ways forward in the face of uncertainty and disruption.
The initiatives happening across the city of Detroit were also a showcase of collaboration. Over one hundred years after the rise of the Model T, this may be another blueprint that Motor City to the world of transportation — this time on how to revitalize communities through coordinated mobility efforts.
Behind the scenes of human stories
This vibrant ecosystem on display seems poised to contribute to safety, sustainability, and access in mobility — whether via ADAS, scooters and e-bikes, or ride-sharing.
At Ottopia, we believe that Level 4 automation that can be deployed safely, affordably, and sooner rather than later, has the potential to contribute to all of these benefits — perhaps at a scale that other innovations can’t aspire to.
Our safety-obsessed, customer-obsessed journey will be all the more rewarding when we are able to support a diverse group of communities and AV passengers. Last week was a reminder that one of our teams could soon work behind the scenes of a great many human stories.