First came the train, then the public transport vehicles, and now the personal cars… all these are on the blink of being substituted with the more efficient and sophisticated driverless cars. Tech futurists predict that all the major cities across the world will have adapted this new technology within the next two decades, thus begging the question: how will the adoption of driverless cars change our cities’ general landscape? Here are the most probable changes that will precipitate from the adoption of driverless cars in our cities.


1.The Growth of Nature-Friendly Cities

Let’s face it: our cities as currently structured have neglected nature in favor of developing vehicle-friendly infrastructures, parking spaces, bus terminus etc. Driverless cars will mean lesser space for everyone’s car, eliminate the need of parking areas, and free big spaces for nature-friendly developments in our cities. City planners can, for example, use the vacant spaces to grow trees. This is also one of the surest ways of beautifying the cities and improving the mental health of city dwellers. 


2. Redesigning of City Buildings.

With the elimination of bus terminus and parking spaces in the city center, passengers will now have to board and alight the driverless cars at the front doors of their homes or offices. The spiral effect of this is that real estate developers- both commercial and residential- will have to rethink their building policies in order to include passengers’ pickup and drop-off spaces in their buildings. Buildings with limited accessibility will have to restructure in order to create space for the driverless cars, failure to which they will become unattractive to tenants 


3.More Lenient Traffic Laws

Driverless cars use artificial intelligence to read GPS and pre-built maps to ferry people from one point to the other, unlike human drivers who need signposts and road signs to stay safe on the road. That’s why human drivers cannot operate smoothly without stringent traffic laws to keep them in check. With driverless cars, multiple cars will be able to efficiently move alongside each other without collisions and other unnecessary traffic safety concerns. Major intersections within the cities will be freed from traffic lights and excess signage. Jaywalking offences will disappear into thin air. City administrators will, therefore, have to go back to the drawing board and formulate new and a little more relaxed traffic laws. 


4 .More & Wider Walkways, More Social Amenities

In the same way that cities will become nature-friendly, decreased road sizes will mean increased free space which will then enable city planners to design more walkways for pedestrians and bikes. As a matter of fact, this space will be big enough for the development of social amenities such as public washrooms, coffee shops, bars, and community gathering halls. This will shift the focus of future city managers from thinking about how pedestrians and vehicles can co-exist to how best balance the conflicting interests of different city dwellers as far as their social amenities will be concerned. 


5. Introduction of Call Centers for Cars

 Even as intelligent as they could be, driverless cars cannot be fully independent from humans. In case they get stuck in traffic, maybe due to an unexpected obstacle like road renovations or collapsed buildings, they will need an instructor or programmer to remotely get them out of that mess. That’s where call centers will come in.


6.No More Gas Stations

 The demand for gas within our cities will significantly reduce with the introduction of driverless cars, which will in turn lead to the closing of many gas and other fuel stations. This also means more spaces for wider walkways and community spaces.


7.Reduced Cost Of Doing Business

Although they will lead to massive job losses in our cities, driverless cars will significantly reduce the cost of doing businessin the cities. This will most likely attract many business-minded people to the city and at the same time drive many job seekers away from the city. It’s a double-edged sword so to speak.


8. Disruption of the Current Revenue-Collection Structure.

Fines that arise from traffic-related offences are among the leading revenue generators for most major cities across the world. Once the driverless cars render a majority of the prevailing traffic laws obsolete, there is a likelihood that city administrators will get alternative revenue-generation strategies.


9.Big Investments in Cybersecurity

Because driverless cars are prone to malicious manipulation by hackers, city administrators as well as the early adaptors of this new technology will have to think of ways to safeguard the cars. That means more resources being redirected from other projects to hiring the most reputable cybersecurity infrastructure.


Article written by Rilind Elezaj

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