Self-driving vehicles will reach us sooner or later – no matter what our personal preferences might be. In the interest of better anticipating what we should expect, EBP studied the risks and opportunities associated with the new technology. The study resulted in recommendations for Swiss lawmakers.
Self-driving vehicles have the potential to fundamentally change our approach to transportation. They may increase transportation safety and ensure greater mobility for people with disabilities, senior citizens and children. However, freeing up drivers’ time for other activities may lead to increased traffic volumes and amplified urban sprawl.
Study shows many unresolved issues
Indeed, self-driving vehicles could either undermine public transportation as we know it or enable new and attractive forms of public transportation. Ultimately, the extent to which self-driving vehicles change our way of life in Switzerland will be determined by regulations enacted by our lawmakers and the rulings issued by our courts. And as a society, it is up to us to define the government’s role and split the new tasks between the public and private sectors. In addition to the obvious technological issues, we’ll need to address numerous economic, legal, political, societal and ethical questions.
Risks and opportunities
Working together with our partner Interface, we drafted a transdisciplinary assessment of the technological impact of self-driving vehicles. This assessment can be used as a basis for engaging in a dialogue at a political and societal level on the various risks and opportunities. It is precisely this sort of dialogue that will enable us as a free society to take rightful control of the developments.
We first examined the technological and economic impact that self-driving vehicles can be expected to have in Switzerland, and then used our findings to engage interested individuals, experts and other stakeholders in a constructive dialogue. We published our results in a book and submitted a synopsis of the book to the members of the Swiss Federal Assembly.
In an effort to convey the results of our study to an broader audience, we have also produced a short explanatory video. It is our hope that this video will help to generate further dialogue on the economic, political and societal aspects of the anticipated developments.