Nashville Chosen For Bloomberg Self-Driving Car Initiative

Posted at 4:44 PM, Oct 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-25 23:54:52-04

Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute are leading a year-long effort with Nashville and nine other cities around the world to accelerate their efforts to prepare for the arrival of self-driving cars.

Under the Bloomberg Aspen Initiative on Cities and Autonomous Vehicles, news outlets reported Monday that Nashville, Austin, Los Angeles, Paris and Buenos Aires, as well as five other cities to be added later this year, will have access to data and coaching from urban planners so the cities can research how to use the technology to address local challenges.

"Certainly in the long term we would like to see autonomous vehicles reduce transportation accidents and fatalities on the road which would also hope with congestion," said city spokesperson Sean Braisted. City officials are working to ensure no regulations would restrict self-driving cars once they're ready to hit Nashville streets.

Nashville Director of Transportation Erin Hafkenschiel said she does not believe autonomous vehicles will solve all of the city's traffic issues, but she hopes the cars could be used to increase mobility for senior citizens and those with disabilities. One example would be using the cars for the first or last mile on a trip that includes the future, expanded transit plan.

Lyft and GM announced a strategic partnership to help develop self-driving cars last year. Both companies have large offices or headquarters near Nashville and tech experts say they could start testing vehicles in a pilot city as early as next year. City officials would love if that city was Nashville.

"Earlier today the mayor spoke with a GM executive about the future of transportation and how we could incorporate autonomous vehicles," Braisted said.