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Through Evolution towards Autonomous Mobility

Autonomous mobility is a great topic of the URBIS SMART CITY FAIR conference. The discussion on Thursday focused on basic advantages of autonomous vehicles, the possibilities of their implementation in cities and regions, their ethical aspects and acceptance by society.

The guests of the panel were Petr Achs from the Innovation Centre of the Ústí Region, David Černý from the Institute of State and Law of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Chairman of the Ministry of Transport's Ethics Commission for the evaluation of issues related to automated and autonomous vehicles in the context of the Czech Republic,  and Zdeněk Lokaj, Vice Dean  for External Relations of the Faculty of Transport at the Czech Technical University (CTU) in Prague. The discussion was hosted by Tereza Čížková, Deputy Director for Autonomous Mobility and Research, Development and Innovation at the Ministry of Transport of the Czech Republic.

What is the potential of autonomous mobility?

Automation and digitalization have been the trends of recent years. Autonomous mobility can be seen as part of broader changes in transport, which are related to the development of emerging services and the use of new technologies through online applications. At the same time, society's behaviour and habits are changing. The trend of sharing is becoming more and more obvious and the use of internet platforms is growing significantly.

The introduction of autonomous transport will be reflected in the reduction of negative effects caused by the irrational behaviour of drivers and the consequent reduction in traffic accidents. More than 1,250,000 people die on the roads every year, and the introduction of autonomous vehicles should make this number drop significantly. The most optimistic scenarios speak of a reduction of up to 93%. Meanwhile, the sustainability of transport will increase, which will result in lower burden on the environment. Autonomous vehicles will also enable rational operation, including optimum use of the engine and other vehicle components.

Implementation in cities

The city of Ústí nad Labem is an active player in the field of autonomous mobility. It is one of the first cities to focus on this area. At the same time, for a number of municipalities that run transportation companies, autonomous mobility should be an important issue in terms of public transport. When implementing them in cities, it is crucial to focus not only on physical infrastructure, but also on digital infrastructure and the issue of connectivity. A suitable way is, for example, the development of a digital twin, which will enable testing in a digital environment and thus significantly accelerate the development and the actual introduction of autonomous vehicles. The coordination of municipal authorities with universities, research institutes as well as stakeholders from the private sector is also important.

What to focus on at the moment?

Building a complete smart infrastructure and high-quality smart sensors is currently one of the priority areas for development. At the same time, however, it is necessary to deal with the legal and legislative issues, the definition of liability for damage and the change in the insurance model. It is the task of the public sector to set clear rules and conditions for the use of autonomous vehicles. The area of ​​technical safety of vehicles, and especially cyber safety, is also a big challenge. The transition to autonomous mobility must be cooperative and multidisciplinary, which means that it should involve as many professionals from various fields as possible.

Ethical aspects of autonomous mobility

In general, humans assess the damages done by  robotic technologies much more rigorously than under standard conditions. Therefore, the introduction of autonomous mobility must be gradual and transparent. It is important for society to get used to this new mode of transport and be sufficiently familiar with all its benefits. Otherwise, there is a risk of the so-called phenomenon of moral panic – the risk of high distrust of this technology with subsequent slowdown on its implementation in practice. An educational campaign will be vital to enable people to rationally appraise the use of autonomous technologies and their benefits. The presentation of autonomous vehicles to the public, including practical demonstrations, will be crucial to gaining confidence in these technologies. It is clear that the transition to autonomous mobility will be a long-term and gradual process.


Date: 4 Jun 2021 08:07:00

Concurrently with


4. - 6.6. 2024

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