There has been a tremendous amount of media attention the last few years offering prognostications and insight into a future where autonomous vehicles are the norm. For the City of Grand Rapids, Mich., the future has merged with the present.
In July 2019, the city with partners launched the Grand Rapids Autonomous Vehicle Initiative (AVGR). AVGR is a collaborative, public-private effort to test the readiness of Grand Rapids for self-driving vehicles.
Through the testing of autonomous shuttles, the partnership aims to create more livable cities, attract next-generation innovation and job creators, and place Grand Rapids at the forefront of testing technology in the real world. The partnership has committed to engage the public, explore ridership trends, innovate accessibility for individuals with disabilities, and study impacts to the built environment. Understanding how autonomous mobility will operate in our world and how people will use or adapt to autonomous mobility is essential to making these systems accessible to people of all backgrounds and abilities. Parking and mobility professionals need to prepare for what the future holds and plan to manage it accordingly.
A future in which autonomous vehicles are the norm requires concerted effort on the part of key stakeholders—both in the public and private sector—to develop vehicles, infrastructure, and operational domain sooner rather than later. As the next wave of mobility emerges, it is vital that Grand Rapids stays on the forefront of learning and understanding how new technologies shape and cultivate consumer behavior.
Josh Naramore is director of Mobile GR & Parking Services for the City of Grand Rapids, Mich. He will present on this topic at the 2020 IPMI Virtual Parking & Mobility Conference & Expo; click here for details and to register.