Beverly Hills wants to upgrade its public transportation with self-driving cars
Futurists have suggested that one day, self-driving cars might augment or even replace public transport, but for the town elders of Beverly Hills, this future is nearer than you'd think. Earlier this month, the city's council voted unanimously to create a program to "develop autonomous vehicles as public transportation."
The council's vision is for self-driving vehicles to provide "on-demand, point-to-point transportation," with citizens "requesting a ride using their smartphone." The shuttles wouldn't replace public transportation, but augment it, with Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch describing how autonomous vehicles would solve the "first/last mile" problem for residents using the city's future subway — the Purple Line Extension — to get in and out of the city.
"IT IS NOW BOTH FEASIBLE AND SAFE FOR AUTONOMOUS CARS TO BE ON THE ROAD."
"This is a game-changer for Beverly Hills and, we hope, for the region," said Mirisch in a press release. "Beverly Hills is the perfect community to take the lead to make this technology a reality. It is now both feasible and safe for autonomous cars to be on the road."
Mirisch previously outlined his ambitions for a fleet of municipal self-driving cars in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Business Journal last June. In this and other documents published by the city's autonomous vehicles task force, the council argues that Beverly Hill's temperate climate, its well-maintained roads, and compact size (it covers just 5.7 square miles) make it "well-suited to [this] individualized, convenient, and efficient local public transportation."