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The analysis assumes self-driving cars designed like current cars. As Seth Porges points out in his Forbes' article "Why Google's New Self-Driving Cars Could Change Auto Design As We Know It", When you move to a fully electric vehicle, you have no need for the trappings of car design that have been present since the Model T days. With the invention of the highway-capable four-wheeled fully-electric lane-splitting capable Tango from the US company Commuter Cars, it's proven that safe and fast single-width cars are absolutely viable on current roads and, indeed, far more efficient regarding road width. If single-occupant drivers drove a right-sized single-width Tango during their commutes, road space would more than double as the space between current lanes could be used for driving. As Google demonstrates with their self-driving car design, the shape of cars will not necessarily resemble the shape of current side-by-side seated cars. In the future, it's most likely that self-driving cars will be narrow for parking advantages alone, and, in turn, vans and buses may become single-width vehicles, too. Just as side-by-side seated bicycles are available but not often ridden, narrow cars may become the standard shape of cars over side-by-side seated cars which will greatly challenge current congestion modelling predictions.
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Nov 27, 2015