Unintended Consequences of AVs, and Potential Solutions

Some negative externalities of automated vehicles – such as their potential effect on fare and long-haul drivers – are well known. And there are always winners and losers in any technological sea change. But what unintended consequences or impediments to AVs are less obvious, and how might be solve them?

Eric Taub of the NY Times recently penned a thoughtful article noting how city jaywalkers might necessitate pedestrian gates. The theory goes that if walkers know AVs will stop for them, they’ll have no qualms about continually walking in front of them and jamming up traffic.

In the same article, the author drops several more unexpected externalities. For instance, automated cars might actually go the speed limit, slowing up traffic – particularly on California highways – that flows much faster. And doing so would also mean fewer tickets; tickets that provide a needed revenue stream for local municipalities and highway patrols alike. Also hurting the municipal bottom line: automated cars that drop shoppers off won’t rake up any parking violations.

Could these two lines of thought actually balance out in unexpected ways? Might there would be more citations of pedestrians than AVs, if the latter is programmed to be completely respectful of laws?

There are many more examples of less-obvious, unintended consequences of AV’s, including car sickness (is the answer an increase in Dramamine sales?), or even having to worry about the previous passengers having “relations” in your AV (ew, frequent cleanings?).

What under-the-radar unintended consequences of AV’s do you think people haven’t thought about? Be sure to publish your thoughts below.

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