The Independent: Driverless electric cars could ‘cut air pollution to almost zero and make parking lots obsolete within 10 years

‘We’re likely to see a huge shift in how our cities look and how transport is managed’  By Lynsey Bews, cross-posted from The Independent

Self-driving electric cars could make car parks obsolete within the next 10 years and reduce air pollution to almost zero in Scotland’s cities, an expert has predicted.

The vehicles are likely to be commonplace by 2030, said Simon Tricker, of “smart cities” specialist UrbanTide, which uses technology and data to improve city planning.

“Scottish local authorities are already thinking about what city streets will look like in a decade’s time – and the answers are pretty astounding,” he said.

“The pace at which electric vehicle technology is developing means they’re also likely to be electric, so will produce zero emissions as they’re driven.

“Taken together with an opening up of the data which will enable new services to link with waiting passengers, we’re likely to see a huge shift in how our cities look and how transport is managed.”  Mr Tricker was speaking ahead of Scottish Renewables first low-carbon cities conference, which will be held in Edinburgh in February.

Other speakers include Asa Karlsson Bjorkmarker, deputy mayor of Vaxjo, Sweden, who will speak about her experiences leading ‘Europe’s greenest city’, James Alexander, of C40, a network of the world’s cities committed to addressing climate change, and Professor Jill Anable, of the University of Leeds.

Rachelle Money, director of communications at Scottish Renewables, said: “With the bulk of Scotland’s power now coming from renewable energy and a new Scottish Climate Change Bill in the offing, Scotland continues to lead the way in building a low-carbon economy.

“Scottish Renewables’ first ever low-carbon cities conference explores the many opportunities for Scotland’s cities to embrace the transition to a sustainable, clean, green economy, reducing energy costs and tackling fuel poverty, while attracting low-carbon investment and jobs, and building our industries of the future.

“Cities across Scotland are already forging ahead with ground-breaking projects to decarbonise their energy supplies, and this conference will share the experiences of some of those initiatives.

“But there’s still a long way to go if we are to meet our ambitious targets and achieve the goal of cutting carbon at the lowest cost, so we’ll look at the emerging ideas across the generation, storage, distribution and use of energy which will transform our urban areas into smart cities for the next generation.”

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