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The future of automated vehicles is brothels and terrorism, apparently

A new study predicts driverless cars will shake up the tourism industry in unconventional ways

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Driverless cars are swiftly turning from fiction to fact, with robo-taxis a near reality and self-driving buses on the horizon. The impact on transport, our approach to motoring and the movement of people will be profound, though hard to predict.

That hasn’t stopped one team of researchers though as a group from the University of Surrey looked to see how driverless vehicles could impact tourism. The paper, “Autonomous vehicles and the future of urban tourism”, charts the potential ways driverless cars, taxis and other vehicles could change the tourism industry.

It’s here we see the bold claim that driverless cars and the tourists who use them could make use of portable private spaces for hotels, bars or, as the study tactfully puts it, “Amsterdam’s Red Light District ‘on the move’”. These private vehicles would function similar to hotel rooms, in which occupants could travel and sleep, relax or… do whatever else people do in bedrooms.

Stepping aside from tourism, the paper also postures the notion that driverless vehicles could allow terrorists to carry out dangerous activities remotely. As the study suggests, the vehicles “will likely be able to travel unoccupied into crowded urban attraction areas” and pose a risk to pedestrians. Particular rules and regulations would need to be enforced to ensure driverless cars couldn’t be used in crimes like this.

READ NEXT: How far are we from autonomous cars?

Another function AVs could fulfil if they become commonplace in cities, is to remotely allow terrorists to carry out dangerous activities. As the study suggests, the vehicles “will likely be able to travel unoccupied into crowded urban  attraction areas” and pose a risk to pedestrians. Particular rules and regulations would need to be enforced to ensure AV couldn’t be used in crimes like this.

Of course the future of AV tourism isn’t all doom and gloom — many of the potential changes listed are actually quite mundane, though positive. The paper states the benefits of reduced traffic and emissions, lower taxi fares and easier parking in cities that embrace robotaxis. There’s also the benefit of increasing the ease of sightseeing tours and improving safety, such as people no longer attempting to drive home after drinking, or driving too fast, which benefits tourists and locals alike.

With automated technology becoming increasingly integrated into our lives — and now our cities — we now need, as the study recommends, “regulation to catch up with technological capabilities” fordriverless vehicles.

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