Innovation & Technology

Jennifer Bradley (Founding Director of the Center for Urban Innovation, The Aspen Institute) “Autonomous vehicles will bring tre

Leaders League. What was the reason for creating the Center?

Jennifer Bradley. The Center for Urban Innovation was created about two years ago at the Aspen Institute to bring together a conversation about innovation and inclusion that is happening in so many cities, that is taking root in a lot of city governments and official institutes. One of the things that the center is interested in is the impact of new technologies and new business models in cities and how these can be used to further inclusion,  as opposed to exclusion and division. And that leads us onto the project of autonomous vehicles.


Leaders League. How are autonomous vehicles currently being introduced across different cities?J.B. We’re working with ten cities, Los Angeles, Austin, Sao Paolo, Buenos Aires, Nashville, Washington DC, London, Paris, Tel Aviv and Helsinki. Some of the cities already have pilot tests of autonomous vehicles going on. Washington DC has passed legislation to allow for autonomous delivery bots; Austin has been a testing site for Google cars. Mobileye, in Israel, aims to have a test up and running in Jerusalem in the next year.


Leaders League. What socio-economic problems can be solved by utilizing autonomous vehicles? J.B. Autonomous vehicles have the power to change cities in a way that is analogous to automobiles when they were introduced in the early to mid-twentieth century. There is no question that autonomous vehicles will bring tremendous benefits in terms of safety, of space for parking, pedestrians and space accessible for areas that are poorly served by public transport. The Aspen Institute is seeking to figure out how to maximize the benefits, minimize the harm, and not overregulate the development of technology.

Leaders League. What challenges come with introducing automated vehicles to society?

J.B. Driverless cars cannot mimic very human interactions. As a result, technology is going to have to learn how the behavior of nonrational, non-sensored humans can be captured in an algorithm. When all the technology is communicating with each other and behaving algorithmically, the challenges will be diminished. 


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