Autonomous Vancouver

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Autonomous Vancouver is a response to the challenge given to us to re-imagine Vancouver’s transit networks in 2040. Our team scoped in on future technologies like autonomous vehicles, and their potential impact on city infrastructure. We focused on how perfect driving from AVs would eliminate on-street parking, creating safer spaces for pedestrians and encouraging people to walk and bike.

School:

SFU

Department:

Faculty of Arts and Social Science - Social Data Analytics

Course:

Capstone Project Seminar (SDA 490)

Instructors:

  • Edana Beauvais
  • Steven Weldon

City of Vancouver:

  • Zak Zenasni

Student Team:

  • Adan Ghori
  • Victoria Leung
  • Sava Savkovic
  • Betty Zhou

Strategy:

  • Transportation 2040

Term:

Spring 2023

Summary

Currently autonomous or driverless vehicles can scarcely be seen, but projected numbers predict that an estimated 58 million AVs will be on the roads by the year 2030. As technology advances, our team believes that driverless cars will be ubiquitous in Vancouver’s roadscapes. As of now, there is approximately 2,000,000 ft2 of space taken up by metered street parking in Vancouver. Our group believes that these spaces can be put to better and more dynamic use, especially since driverless vehicles may be able to park better than people can. We ran a few data analyses using parking meter data and deduced that most parking seemed to be located in the downtown area.

Autonomous vehicles have the potential to reduce and eliminate the need for traditional parking spaces due to their ability to drive with perfect or near-perfect precision. Unlike human drivers, autonomous vehicles can park more efficiently and can be programmed to park in specific locations. This means parking stalls could be designed to be clustered together and street parking can be eliminated altogether, freeing up space for other uses. Cities can then convert these areas into infrastructure that supports pedestrians, making urban areas more walkable and accessible for all, tackling the city’s Transport 2040 strategy.

In areas with numerous paid parking spots, our group imagined that these parking spaces would be completely taken out. Instead, AVs will be able to drop their passengers off at designated pick up/drop off areas before parking at a nearby garage, like EasyPark. Of course, these parking garages will need to be expanded to accommodate the influx of vehicles. However, given the number of EasyPark locations, it would convenient for both people and an opening for leaseholders and the city to benefit from the parking rates.

Once on-street paid parking is removed, the spaces they leave behind offer a wealth of opportunities for the city to take advantage of. The spaces can be used for public art and performance, as commercial zones for couriers to load their wares safely, or even as public spaces for people to gather. We hope that by creating safer roads and enjoyable places, the public would feel incentivized to come out with their bikes, their friends and family, or themselves to explore their city at their leisure, realizing Vancouver’s Transport 2040 goals.

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