We have often said that the largest barrier to the roll-out of AVs will not be state of the technology, but instead the backlash to it. Our work has focused on understanding the impacts of emerging technologies on cities and we firmly believe that these impacts, if not well structured and guided, might be detrimental to cities. If cities and communities suffer – or fear they are going to be negatively impacted – we will start to see resistance to the technologies en masse.
As a case in point – UPS is currently in contract negotiations with the Teamsters and one of the key issues on the table is that UPS agree to not pursue the use of drone technology or autonomous vehicles. From conversations we have had with transit agencies around the country, this is a similar issue coming up in labor negotiations nationally.
Labor and industry will need to figure out a path forward that takes into account the needs of workers and the reality of competition (as other companies that are pursing AVs may outcompete those that don’t). This all points to a need to think proactively about the implications of these new technologies – going beyond transportation and beyond labor as well – to understand how we can best shape an emerging technology future.