future of mobility regulation


Regulating the future of mobility

Balancing innovation and the public good in autonomous vehicles, shared mobility, and beyond

The new mobility ecosystem offers the potential for massive benefits—and disruption. Who will ensure that still-unproven technologies improve safety and make people’s lives better? The burden will likely fall on regulators.

The public good

Regulating the future of mobility is a complex challenge, involving uncertain timing, authorities at multiple levels of government, and a host of issues that extend far beyond a vehicle’s ability to safely navigate city streets. The rapid pace of developments and the idiosyncrasies of any given regulator’s mandate, authority, political constraints, and resources only add to the uncertainty and complexity.

In such an environment, it can be helpful to start with first principles. We have developed five guidelines for regulating emerging technologies (see figure 1), and the full article applies those guiding principles to some of the core regulatory challenges posed by the future of mobility, including ensuring the safety and functionality of autonomous vehicles (AVs) and other new modes; establishing protocols for safely and securely managing data; and addressing congestion and ensuring access. These principles are not mutually exclusive—indeed, they are often complementary.

Full report: Regulating the future of mobility

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Getting ahead of three key mobility challenges

With some exceptions, regulatory bodies at the national, regional, and local levels have not approached the future of mobility in a way that considers its full range of potential opportunities and impacts. By focusing on today’s challenges —such as coping with fast-growing ride-hailing services or setting the stage for limited AV testing — governments risk missing an opportunity to proactively shape tomorrow’s mobility environment. A more forward-looking and comprehensive approach to new mobility technologies and services informed by data and grounded in a set of underlying principles can help regulators craft guidance that ensures a mobility system that is more efficient, effective, and inclusive. Figure 2 summarizes how the guiding principles for regulating emerging technologies might be applied to three mobility domains:

  1. AV safety and functionality
    Many regulators have focused on establishing conditions for how, where, and when AVs can be tested and piloted in relatively small numbers, which makes perfect sense given the state of AV development and the reluctance of many to prematurely lock in a particular set of rules. Yet as self-driving technology evolves — multiple companies plan limited commercial launches in the next few years — regulators will likely need to turn their attention to how these vehicles should operate at scale on public roads.
  2. Data security and privacy
    Vast and diverse quantities of data underpin AVs and nearly every other significant new mobility technology. The ability to safely and securely collect, share, analyze, and act upon this data is a necessary (if not sufficient) condition for creating a seamless, intermodal mobility system that is faster, cheaper, cleaner, safer, and more accessible than today. Security and privacy loom large in the future of mobility, a fact that most global regulators acknowledge even as they struggle to articulate concrete policies to address it.
  3. Managing mobility for the public good
    The future of mobility offers tremendous promise: a world of seamless, intermodal transportation that meets all users’ needs. Self-driving vehicles and shared mobility could provide transportation to many millions of people who currently struggle to get around, especially the young, the old, and the disabled. They could be key to helping the roughly 15 million people in the United States who report having difficulty accessing transportation, and widespread AV deployment could enable 2 million job opportunities for the US disabled community alone. Energy think-tank SAFE forecasts the total annual benefit of AVs to American consumers and society reaching nearly US$800 billion by 2050. Yet there are darker versions of this future.

In the full report, we look just over the horizon to consider the broader regulatory considerations including key regulatory issues and regulatory approaches for the three critical mobility issues. 

Regulating the Future of Mobility

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