​​As a panelist at the recent Automotive World’s M:bility | California conference, Fenwick’s John McNelis discussed the ways in which Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric (CASE) mobility could revolutionize urban landscapes.

McNelis, who serves as co-chair of Fenwick's autonomous transportation and shared mobility practice, said that while new technology holds huge promise to reshape city life, it would require collaboration and a reserved approach. He pointed out that as autonomy becomes more commonplace, there is also no guarantee that a driverless mobility network would solve traffic congestion, and the freedom these vehicles could provide may make roads even less efficient.

“It is hard to gauge how private autonomous vehicles are going to affect things, so recently a study was done which gave various groups of people in San Francisco a chauffeur for a week. They then compared the miles travelled during that week to similar periods before and afterwards,” McNelis said. “The number of miles travelled increased by 83% when they had that chauffeur. For some groups, and particularly retirees, it more than doubled.

“On the micromobility side, you see cities pumping the brakes and at first banning new companies, but then trying to bring in companies to work with them and carry out pilots, tests and study the data to expand in a more reasoned and intentional way. The cities are very interested in trying to get ahead of the huge change we’re going to see over the next five to 15 years. The key element they’re focused on is that public transit continues to be used,” McNelis noted.