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How Self-Driving Cars Could Lead to More Sprawl

Much of the focus on the potential of self-driving cars to effect change in the built environment has focused on dense, urban environments. But what is self-driving cars mostly enable continued outward expansion?
June 20, 2016, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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An article by Christopher Mims imagines the "weirdest thing" about a future of self-driving cars: where people will live.

Nearly everyone who has studied the subject believes these self-driving fleets will be significantly cheaper than owning a car, which sits idle roughly 95% of the time. With the savings, you will be able to escape your cramped apartment in the city for a bigger spread farther away, offering more peace and quiet, and better schools for the children.

Commuting from a "new class of exurbs" will be a luxurious affair, according to Mims, with none of the current hassles of the average commuter, particularly congestion. Mims calls on Robert McDonald, lead scientist for the Global Cities Program at the Nature Conservancy, to make the point that humans have proven themselves to spread out into sprawl as soon as their transportation modes begin to move faster.

Mims admits that he could be wrong, but not because Millennials prefer cities (an idea he debunks), but because self-driving cars could also "make cities livable in way they aren't now."

The article might be behind a paywall.

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Published on Monday, June 20, 2016 in The Wall Street Journal
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