Autonomous Vehicle Revolution: The Impact of Driverless Cars on Our Cities and Our Way of Life

Autonomous Vehicle Revolution: The Impact of Driverless Cars on Our Cities and Our Way of Life

Dale Dekker, AICP, Principal, Dekker/Perich/Sabatini
July 9, 2017

“In the words of Yogi Berra, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” This insight certainly applies to the radical and revolutionary impact autonomous vehicles (a.k.a. driverless cars) will have on the way we live, work and play. What sort of impact can we expect in Albuquerque? Albuquerque, to date, has been built to accommodate the automobile and the people that drive them. Wide streets, low density development, vast parking lots, segregated land uses and the resultant congestion that is inevitable when people must drive everywhere between where they work, live and shop. It is estimated that self-driving autonomous vehicles, when fully adopted, will reduce traffic congestion by 80% and increase green space in cities by 30%, as road lanes and parking spaces are taken out of service. What will our city look like and how can we begin to adapt to this “disruptive” technology? Smart cars, smart cities and smart planning will drive the “design of the cities of the future.” Albuquerque as a western city, where the “automobile is king”, has an opportunity to get out ahead of the curve and begin making smart decisions regarding land use, zoning and infrastructure investments in order to truly become a 21st Century city. Huge amounts of venture capital is being poured into autonomous vehicles. The rapid pace of change and adaptation is already being tested via Uber and driverless cars in Pittsburgh, and in California by Ford, Tesla and Google. Most recently an autonomous driverless semi-tractor trailer navigated the I-25 corridor from Ft. Collins to Colorado Springs, to deliver a cargo of beer. One can only begin to speculate the impact that driverless vehicles will have on supply chains, the automotive insurance industry, auto body shops, congestion and vehicle occupant safety. The future is right around the corner.

Dale Dekker is an original founder of Dekker/Perich/Sabatini (D/P/S), an award-winning architecture and design firm that employs more than 170 people in offices in Albuquerque and Las Cruces, NM; Amarillo, TX; and Phoenix, AZ. Dale has extensive experience in architecture and planning projects that are socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable. He has contributed to high tech, one-of-a-kind research facilities for Sandia National Labs, award-winning school designs across the Southwest, and large-scale master plans for universities.

Supported by Albuquerque City Council, Haverland Carter Lifestyle Group, and Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union