Workshop on Autonomous Vehicles Held for North Sea Commission Transport GroupOn March 1st, the North Sea Commission's Transport Group invited the City of Bremen to hold a workshop on autonomous transport. The main focus was the need to create policies that steer the development of autonomous vehicles in the direction of supporting sustainable transport goals rather than carrying on with "business as usual".
The North Sea Commission is an international partnership of local authorities - represented by public officials and politicians - connected in the North Sea Region. The North Sea Commission is divided into thematic working groups. On March 1st, 2017, the Transport Group, attended by the member regions in Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Germany, invited the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen to conduct a workshop on autonomous vehicles (AVs) in Aberdeen.
At the workshop, Bremen (represented by Michael Glotz-Richter) provided basic information on the technical features of AVs as well as updates on recent developments in the automotive industry. AVs have a strong potential for making transport safer, more efficient and more accessible to certain groups, especially if deployed as shared vehicles. But autonomous vehicles are also raising concerns related to safety, liability and data privacy as well as to employment (redundancy of transport workers). The main emphasis of the workshop was on the need to draft European regulations on AVs (the European Commission has initiated a process on this) as there are several issues which need to be resolved. The policy level must steer the developments, not the industry and technology providers.
The North Sea Commission member regions and their politicians can play an important role in raising awareness and obtaining public acceptance of the different aspects involved and to steer the policy development in the direct so that autonomous vehicles can be used to improve safety, accessibility and quality of life as well as reduce space consumption rather than thwart sustainable urban mobility goals in cities. The time for policy makers and cities to act is now!