Will Beverly Hills Have Self Driving Cars As Public Transportation?

Beverly Hills is home to a great number of people working in the entertainment industry who tend to be open-minded and receptive to new ideas.

Also, Beverly Hills is an exciting city that embraces innovation. So self-driving cars as public transportation doesn’t seem like such a far-fetched idea.

The story made news back in April when the city’s council unanimously expressed a positive vote. In a nutshell, they want to create a program to introduce autonomous vehicles as public transportation.

A Bold Vision for the Future

Beverly Hills council’s vision is that sometime soon self-driving cars will provide public transportation.

The purpose is not to replace the existing service but to upgrade it. Citizens will be able to use an app on their smartphones to call point-to-point transportation.

The idea is to augment public transportation.

Beverly Hills mayor John Mirisch said in a press release that “It is now both feasible and safe for autonomous cars to be on the road.” To what extent that is true, we don’t know yet.

There is still an ongoing debate when it comes to the development of driverless cars.


Why Beverly Hills?

Authorities say that Beverly Hills is the perfect place to start this autonomous cars revolution. What makes it the perfect candidate?

  • Its climate
  • The city’s well-maintained roads
  • Its compact size

However, the feasibility part could be questioned. The city’s council plans to reach out to companies like Tesla and Google.

Granted, those are both companies that play a significant role when it comes to the development of self-driving cars. But are they really safe? Are they ready to take on such a major challenge?

How Is the Plan Developing?

Recent reports outline progress.

Beverly Hills is determined to be the first city to have autonomous vehicles as public transport. 

City authorities have already met with Google and Apple. They’ve also discussed with top car manufacturers like Google, Volvo, and BMW. They reached out to Local Motors as well, an Arizona firm that manufactures self-driving cars using 3D printers.

At the middle of August, Beverly Hills authorities partnered with CARS (Center for Automotive Research at Stanford). This is the place where the Solar Project comes to life.

Every two years, students take part in a competition to drive a solar powered car through Australia’s Outback.

The Beverly Hills council even came up with a cool name idea. They would like to name the service MASS. This stands for Municipal Automated Shuttle System.

All in all, it is easy to understand the city’s council is serious about this project. They want to make it happen.

Google vs. Tesla

It may seem unfair to compare the two companies. That is because Tesla already released its products, while Google is still testing.

A Tesla X has been involved in a fatal accident a few months ago. But it also saved a man’s life a while ago. So there are two sides to the story.

Meanwhile, Google’s connected cars haven’t been involved in any major accidents. However, one of its autonomous vehicles did bump into a median barrier at 15 km/h. A more serious event was when it crashed into a bus.

Self-Driving Cars Seem to Be the Future

Not just Google and Tesla are pushing innovations for self-driving vehicles. Ford, Volkswagen, and other automobile manufacturers are investing hundreds of millions into this.

Ford has already taken steps towards this. It is expanding its labs and employee base in Silicon Valley. General Motors has invested 500 million dollars in Lyft – a ride-hailing company – with emphasis on developing an autonomous vehicles fleet.

Apart from this, self-driving cars will become the fourth screen for media content consumption. This means that many companies will develop apps and ways to integrate entertainment.

In the end, the goal is to make the autonomous vehicle just as important and functional as your smartphone.

The future seems to belong to the connected cars. But is it possible to build a transportation system around driverless cars? We’ll most likely find out soon enough.

The Bottom Line

It may still take a few years before self-driving cars become part of our daily lives. The laws still need to adapt to this. Police officers need to know how to respond to the challenges driverless car bring.

I’ll keep you posted whenever new information surfaces. Let me know in the comments section below how you feel about this idea.

Should all big cities push for self-driving cars as public transportation?

Philipp Kandal