REDCAR questions

Question: I am struggling to understand in simple terms what the “redcar” concept is, how it would work and how it differs from what we currently have. Would people still own their own vehicles? Or is it like a bike share system. What about storage? Who is driving? All very basic questions. Is there a relatively simple explanation somewhere that you could share?

•       The intent is that people would not own their own car but would have ready access to a vehicle (individually or shared) similar to Zipcar “car-share” program with the fee / user cost being based upon a shared (cheapest) option through to an individual (most expensive) option. However we don’t prohibit individuals from potentially using their cars but they would be hit with the highest premium use charge.

•       The intent is that the “redcars” would, during the day and evening anyway, be constantly in use through sharing. However realizing that there would be peak hour demands greater than the average day or evening demand some storage location (“car barn” if you will) will be required but that can be remotely located as cars would be travelling on the road on an “on-demand” basis only. Also, with a redesigned urban vehicle the space required for car parking would be significantly reduced from the current 110 sf minimum footprint of a typical car.

•       The vehicles would be self-driving, in that they could use the autonomous vehicle guidance system currently under development by the Volkswagen Group in conjunction with Stanford CARS program (Sven Beiker of Stanfords CARS may talk to that point), or if they’re on the freeway they could use the Automated Highway System demonstrated by UCB’s PATH program down on I-15 in San Diego (Jim Misener of UCB’s PATH may talk to that) and they would be self-aware and spatially interconnected similar to the work done by both VW and GM (se Chris Borroni-Bird’s work on this).

•       Per issues of culture, safety, economics and practicality – the answers may be a bit more nuanced and create very interesting discussion.  Our interests ultimately lie in achieving:  1) more people in fewer cars that 2) move in a more efficient manner 3) take up less space in the urban realm (either parked or in motion.)  The issue of whether the cars are driverless and whether private ownership is permitted are ones that we initially discussed at length.  In the end, we are found that there is rational for maintaining both and, especially considering the immediate implementation of this concept, there would have to be exceptions.  For example, even if the car is driverless, there may be a need to have a “driver” – just to ease the social/cultural and safety concerns.

•       The second scheduled session – “the overlay” – will deal with issues which have been less explored than the first phase of our investigation. These issues &impacst include the impacts to the urban realm and opportunities of freed space (by consolidation of vehicles, “road diet” etc.) and the new nodes that emerge from shared social interests.  New conversations including the changes to regulatory structure and lending patterns to promote these nodes have recently surfaced and trigger various outcomes.  I believe herein lies the types of discussions that will be most interesting as part of the colloquium.

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