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Who Pays for Redesigning Streets for Self-Driving Cars?

In the abstract, self-driving cars should make traffic in cities better. In practice, I think self-driving cars will make traffic congestion far worse, requiring a fairly substantial redesign of the road systems in American cities.

The short-term congestion and long-term time, expense and disruption of the required redesign of city roads present yet another serious challenge for any company hoping to profit from a fully autonomous vehicle future. It will markedly slow down the transition, and give cities a major lever to extract rents from any company hoping to operate unmanned vehicles on their streets.  

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It is possible that some new cities will be built differently and fully autonomous tech will roll out faster. But my money says that as you go through the layers and layers of what it means to get self-driving cars working in cities that were laid out in some cases pre-automobile, don’t hold your breath.

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Shannon Clark, Robert Ritchie and 8 others commented on this article.
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It is likely, therefore, that cities will look to the companies offering self-driving systems to help foot the bill for the congestion and retrofit work they cause.