Autonomous vehicle tests yet to revamp cities in Europe

Most pilots remain in the early stages, and cities are happy to see how they go before reshaping road networks. By Freddie Holmes

Public autonomous vehicle (AV) tests are taking place with greater frequency across many European cities as interest in the technology grows. The general consensus is that commercially viable solutions are some way off, but city authorities are keen to investigate how AVs could ease the pressures of urbanisation.

Special report: How are cities preparing for autonomous vehicles?

Approaches vary, but there are a handful of key applications being considered: shuttles that can ferry groups of people around; driverless delivery vehicles that can operate all day; and to a lesser extent, private pods that might carry one or two passengers at a time for personal trips.

For cities, the addition of yet another means of road transport alongside private vehicles, buses, vans and trucks must be carefully considered; traffic congestion already brings a raft of issues to the table, primarily air pollution and lost time. For this reason, most AV pilots tend to focus on larger automated vehicles that can serve as an intermediary between conventional buses and taxis. How are cities in Europe investigating the real-world benefits so far?

No change needed, in theory

Rather than…