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Researchers weigh self-driving vehicle benefits and offsets

(KLBJ FILE PHOTO)

The future belongs to self-driving vehicles, At least that's what the City of Austin believes. So it's beginning to look into infrastructure upgrades and more to accomodate them. UT Transportation Research Center Director Chandra Bhat (Bott) says the way such cars would be accessed by you and me could be dramatically different than what we're used to. "You could have benefits. You could have things that might offset some of those benefits. And that's where regulation and policy start coming into play."

The City of Austin is set on getting itself in front of the curve for self-driving vehicle infrastructure and policy. There are concerns that that could mean a potential erosion of more freedoms. Like it or not, self-driving and electric cars are coming and maybe new draconian paradigms for how you use them and where you live. Bhat says "My studies of policies says 'you shall not live more than an hour from your workplace.' Don't shoot me, I'm just saying. Now, I'm not suggesting that, necessarily, but those are the types of regulations and policies to start thinking about." 
Dr. Bhat says communal fleets might supplant private ownership of autonomous vehicles.

On the other hand, Bhat says as more people become used to autonomous cars, urban sprawl could become more of a problem. "The car is driving. Why do I care where I live? I don't need to live closer to my workplace anymore. I'm going to live in the boonies. One and half hours, two hours, I don't care, I'm doing my thing in the vehicle

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