The Herald

Car parks ‘obsolete in a decade’

Expert predicts self-drive cars will change cities and cut pollution


SELF-DRIVING electric vehicles 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.

“Self-driving cars will not need parking spaces in cities – they’re likely to be rented rather than owned and will just head off and carry out their next journey after dropping passengers off. Many car parking spaces that we now take for granted will simply become obsolete.

“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 that will enable new services to link with waiting passengers, we are 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 will 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 Leeds University.

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 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 the country are already forging ahead with groundbrea­king projects to decarbonis­e their energy supplies, and this conference will share the experience­s of some of those initiative­s.”

Ms Money said there was still a long way to go to meet Scotland’s target of meeting its ambitious targets to achieve the goal of cutting carbon at the lowest cost.

She added: “We will look at the emerging ideas across the generation, storage, distributi­on and use of energy that will transform our urban areas into smart cities for the next generation.”

Last week, Uber, which is better known in the UK as a taxi firm, withdrew its “self-driving” cars from California in a dispute with state authoritie­s. It insists the vehicles do not need a permit because they are equipped to drive themselves.

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