Imagining a Traffic-Free Future By Sending Driverless Cars Underground
By Linda Poon
9 December 2016
Photo courtesy Huffington Post
CarTube, a proposal for a network of underground tubes that would shepherd driverless cars to their destinations, is one of the more ambitious visions for the future of transportation revealed in 2016.
Designed by PLP Architecture in London, the proposal calls for fully electric, driverless cars to operate in underground tunnels from existing roads above. Leaving surface streets open for pedestrians and bikers, CarTube envisions a bold solution to solve traffic congestion in a monumental way: Embracing smart technology, an app would call a car which would drive the passenger to his or her destination by artificial intelligence.
To urban planners, however, the feasibility of the idea and the car-centric approach could be just as problematic as the doomed straddling bus concept in China, according to Professor Emeritus of City & Regional Planning Robert Cervero.
“Technological fixes like this, however well meaning, buy into the traditional paradigm of focusing on movement, not people,” Professor Cervero explained. “It risks exacerbating the past half-century of ever-worsening problems attributed to automobile-dependent lifestyles, [like] urban sprawl, the engineering of walking and face-to-face contact of everyday life.”
The resources and money spent finding the space for the underground tubes amid the existing underground pipelines and subway tunnels would be better spent creating “world-class” public transit, according to Cervero.