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Councilman Moves To Make L.A. Ready For Driverless Cars By 2035

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Could Los Angeles—the car capital of the world—make a complete shift to autonomous vehicles as soon as two decades from now? Councilman David Ryu sure thinks so, and he'd like the city to be ready.

On Wednesday, Ryu introduced legislation in the City Council that, if passed, would help the city to prepare for a fully autonomous future by 2035. Ryu's motion would require the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to report back on the benefits of driverless cars in L.A., and to outline the steps that would need to be taken over the course of the next 5, 10, 15, and 20 years to prepare, paving the way for the implementation of related.

"We're eager to hear more and see what the city can do to prepare [for an autonomous future]," Estevan Montemayor, Ryu's Director of Communications, told LAist. "It appears to be not a matter of if, but when," he added.

Ryu isn't alone in his belief that a driverless L.A. could become the status quo mere decades from now. Two weeks ago, LADOT released a report outlining how the department could deploy and support an ecosystem of advanced technologies to prepare the city for an automated future. Their "Urban Mobility in a Digital Age" strategy report proposes a number of policy considerations, near-term actions and pilot projects for the department to consider as it prepares for that not-too-distant future.

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The mayor himself has been a strong advocate for a driverless Los Angeles, pledging way back in 2014 to try and make L.A. the first urban center to have autonomous vehicles readily available. The councilman's motion also comes just two days after the federal government unveiled long-awaited guidelines for the automated vehicle industry, a move that The New York Times called "the most aggressive signal yet by federal regulators that they see automated car technology as a win for auto safety."

The councilman, who also called on autonomous vehicle companies to bring their technologies to Los Angeles, said that the effects of autonomous vehicles on traffic could be staggering (in a good way), writing in the motion:

An autonomous transit city would eliminate the biggest drivers of traffic: vehicles circling looking for parking, vehicles blocking the intersection during rush hour, vehicles making last minute lane changes causing rapid stopping, vehicle accidents, and inefficient distances between cars on our roads. Further, residents would likely prefer autonomous car shares rather than full vehicle ownership, freeing up land formerly used for parking lots, parking spaces, and gas stations.

After being introduced today in council, Ryu's motion will head next to the council's transportation committee (which is chaired by Councilman Mike Bonin, who seconded the motion) before returning to the full council for a vote. If the motion passes, LADOT would be required to prepare their report within 45 days.

Related: The Future Los Angeles Is Filled With Self-Driving Minibuses That Arrive At Your Doorstep