BOSTON – Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the Boston Transportation Department and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, in partnership with the World Economic Forum, announced the launch of a new program to explore autonomous technologies within the City of Boston.
The collaboration will include a year-long engagement focused on creating policy recommendations and supporting on-street testing of autonomous vehicles, also known as self-driving vehicles, to advance the safety, access and sustainability goals identified by the public during the Go Boston 2030 transportation planning process.
“Boston’s collaboration with the World Economic Forum represents our commitment to creating a safe, reliable and equitable mobility plan for Boston’s residents. We are focused on the future of our city and how we safely move people around while providing them with reliable mobility choices,” said Mayor Walsh. “With our start-ups and educational institutions, Boston is a leader in technology, robotics and innovation. Together with our partners, we know the City of Boston is ready to lead the charge on this transformative technology.”
Boston was selected as the lead partner city for the World Economic Forum’s City Challenge, an initiative designed to support cities in their efforts to prepare for the future of urban mobility. With the help of the Forum and its knowledge partner, The Boston Consulting Group, the City of Boston will develop a strategy for new mobility including autonomous driving, and develop a framework for the testing of autonomous vehicles on city streets.
“Boston distinguished itself in the application process with its strong appetite and track record in civic innovation and some very thoughtful questions about the intersection of vehicle automation and shared mobility,” said John Moavenzadeh, Head of Mobility Industries at the World Economic Forum. “Our advisory board, which is a cross-industry group of public and private sector experts, overwhelmingly felt that Boston provided the best opportunity for learning and advancement of new models of mobility. ”
Over the course of the next year City of Boston and Commonwealth of Massachusetts leaders will work with the World Economic Forum, The Boston Consulting Group, international cities and mobility industry leaders on developing policy goals and autonomous vehicle testing scenarios for Boston. The collaboration kicked-off in July with an advisory group meeting in Boston led by Mayor Walsh focused on exploring autonomous shared vehicle technology and will continue with a series of targeted focus groups being conducted in the coming weeks.
“Shared, autonomous vehicles have the potential to fundamentally improve urban transportation by enhancing accessibility for the city’s residents and increasing road safety. We are excited to be engaging with the City of Boston during the coming months on making this vision for urban mobility a reality,” said Nikolaus Lang, Senior Partner at The Boston Consulting Group.
This work with Boston builds on prior World Economic Forum research into Personal Mobility and Self-Driving Vehicles, conducted in 2015 in partnership with The Boston Consulting Group, and the Future of Cities. The results show that improving affordable transportation options could be the biggest factor contributing to individuals escaping poverty. Additionally, results indicate that autonomous vehicles, when shared, have the potential to take 60-70% of cars off the road. Because this would significant reduce crashes due to human error, it is projected that autonomous vehicles could reduce road fatalities by up to 90%. Furthermore, since autonomous vehicles would likely be electric, we would expect to reduce emissions from vehicles by 2-4%.
While industry experts agree self-driving cars will be a significant presence on U.S. roads by 2030, complete regulations have not been put into place to prepare for them. Boston and World Economic Forum’s partnership directly complements and draws upon the efforts of Go Boston 2030 and will include an autonomous vehicle pilot, which will be instrumental in guiding Boston and other cities through the process of integrating, and maximizing benefit from, new mobility technologies.
The self-driving vehicle initiative is an early action project of Go Boston 2030, the City’s transportation planning effort. The effort is being led by the Boston Transportation Department and the Mayor’s Mobility Plan Advisory Committee. In addition to developing a long term strategic plan, Go Boston 2030 is identifying specific initiatives for immediate implementation.
The World Economic Forum, committed to improving the state of the world, is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.