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Advocate Wants I-5 Converted into Corridor for Autonomous Vehicles

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Advocate Wants I-5 Converted into Corridor for Autonomous Vehicles

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The idea of getting around Seattle in an autonomous car excites Tom Alberg. He’d much rather not be driving.

“You recapture that lost time,” Alberg said. “Even if it takes you the same amount of time to do something, it would be a better experience.”

Alberg is the founder of Madrona Venture Group and a big booster of driverless cars.

He advocates converting I-5 into a corridor for autonomous vehicles.

His proposal suggests that by 2040, no human-driven cars should be allowed on I-5 at all.

“I think everybody will be surprised at how quickly the technology comes,” Alberg said.

Tony Seba predicts a revolution will come even sooner.

His Rethink-X report predicts that by 2030, 95 percent of U.S. passenger vehicle miles traveled will be in electric, autonomous vehicles.

And he says, we won’t own those cars.

“The concept of car ownership is going to be obsolete,” Seba said in 2016 at the Downtown Seattle Association’s State of Downtown event.

Seba’s big prediction is that people will almost exclusively use on-demand driverless vehicles owned by companies like Uber.

Because the vehicles will keep circulating for new passengers, Seba says we won’t need so many parking spots.

“The disruption is when you combine a car as a service with self-driving,” Seba said.

KIRO 7 asked University of Washington engineering and transportation professor Don MacKenzie of the Sustainable Transportation Lab if Seba’s timeline is plausible.

“No, not at all plausible,” MacKenzie said. “I go down to Mount Rainier, I can’t even get a signal on my phone, let alone summon a ride with it. So I don’t know how this is supposed to work outside major cities.”

MacKenzie said unlike fast-evolving phones, new car technology can take 20 years before

He says predictions of a quick transition ignore the connections people have with their cars, and their need to do more than grab a quick ride downtown.

“People with children, people with pets, people who smoke, people who carry stuff around in their car. You add up all those exceptions and the market gets really small really fast,” MacKenzie said.

No matter how fast driverless cars arrive, how should we plan for them?

Josh Brown of the Puget Sound Regional Council said the planning agency was updating its 2040 transportation plan to include autonomous vehicles.

The agency is still taking public comments before the plan is updated in May.

“Things are going to change, and we’re going to have to get ready for the change,” Brown said.

Originally Published at KIRO 7 NEWS