Autonomous vehicles could shape the future of urban tourism

n the first study of its kind, published in the Annals of Tourism Research, academics from the University of Surrey and the University of Oxford have examined how Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) may have a substantial impact on the future of urban tourism.

When we think of automated vehicles it seems to be a topic that sits firmly in science fiction, from cars with character in The Love Bug (1969) and Knight Rider (1982) to more recent practical representations in Minority Report (2002). However, according to the new research by Professor Scott Cohen (University of Surrey) and Dr Debbie Hopkins (University of Oxford), CAVs may be spotted on our roads as soon 2025 and could lead to far-reaching impacts on urban tourism.

The conceptual paper entitled Autonomous vehicles and the future of urban tourism imagines the impact of AVs in future urban tourism and focuses on the pros and cons of these impacts with regards to the transformation of urban space, the rise of autonomous taxis, and changes to city sightseeing and hospitality in the urban night.

Potential benefits include reduced traffic congestion and emissions, improved foreign car hire processes, reduced parking requirements and cheaper taxi fares. AVs may impact other industries in radical ways too, such as Amsterdam’s Red Light District, which could become operated out of moving AVs, and restaurants and hotels may encounter new competition in the form of AV dining cars and passengers sleeping in their moving vehicles.

AVs are also the subject of many concerns. More time spent in cars on longer journeys could facilitate greater urban sprawl and increase car dependency. AVs may reduce demand for train travel, coach tours, public transport and driven taxis – all resulting in future job losses. The potential for terrorism facilitated by AVs also raises genuine security fears.

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