San Jose is trying to figure out how to integrate self-driving cars into its transportation network. As part of a just-launched initiative, the city is asking the private sector for ideas about how to leverage autonomous vehicles as a solution to transportation problems.
“Autonomous vehicles have enormous potential to help cities improve traffic safety, relieve congestion, and improve transportation mobility for seniors, people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said Thursday.
The initiative is part of the mayor’s “Smart City Vision,” a blueprint for incorporating technology into the city’s future. Liccardo said he wants to take “deep, data-driven look” at how self-driving cars can improve the public’s quality of life.
People who live and work in San Jose deal with increasing commute times and dozens of traffic fatalities a year. With the population projected to grow another 40 percent in the coming two decades, those problems are expected to worsen. The city hopes that autonomous cars could address some of those challenges.
City officials have held several roundtable discussions about the idea with representatives from the car industry. Now, the mayor is putting out a call for autonomous vehicle pilot project ideas. Pitches that align with the following objectives will have the best shot at winning the city’s approval:
- Eliminate all traffic related fatalities and reduce severe injuries
- Reduce the environmental impact of vehicle miles traveled
- Build a balanced and equitable transportation system
- Create a more livable and walkable city
- Share and utilize data to optimize our transportation system and protect privacy for our residents
“Autonomous vehicles are rapidly moving towards widespread testing and implementation,” San Jose’s Assistant Director of Transportation Kevin O’Connor said. “Ultimately, they could have a tremendous impact on the safety, mobility, sustainability, and livability of our city.”
While the city will entertain a wide range of self-driving vehicle concepts, the request for proposals specifically calls for pilot projects that do the following:
- Provide the missing link between Diridon Station and the Airport
- Address the heavily-traveled Stevens Creek-San Carlos Corridor
- Integrate AVs into the rich, multi-modal downtown environment
- Integrate AVs into the jobs-heavy North San Jose Transportation Innovation Zone
- Connect the Homeless Veterans Emergency Housing Facility to Capitol Light Rail Station
The city will accept submissions through late July and potentially roll out at least one pilot project by this fall. To review the city’s request for information, click here. For more information about San Jose’s Smart City Vision, click here.