BEVERLY HILLS—The Beverly Hills City Council unanimously passed a resolution to manifest a program to develop autonomous vehicles (A.V.s) as public transportation. According to a press release from Therese Kosterman, Public Information Officer for Beverly Hills, during the April 5 city council meeting, councilmembers “enthusiastically” embraced the program and the region to take a leading role in testing and deploying a fleet of driverless municipal shuttles.
“This is a game-changer for Beverly Hills and, we hope, for the region,” said Mayor John Mirisch, who laid out his vision for autonomous vehicles in an op-ed article for the Los Angeles Business Journal last June. “Beverly Hills is the perfect community to take the lead to make this technology a reality. It is now both feasible and safe for autonomous cars to be on the road.”
Several tech-savvy residents who comprise Beverly Hills’ technology committee have been working with the City Council to develop the A.V. program and other technology projects. The city is currently creating a citywide network of fiber optics cable that not only will bring high-speed connectivity to every resident and business in BH, but will allow communications with the smart cars of the future. Some companies are expecting to have A.V.s on the market in the next 2-5 years.
The launch of the A.V. program will consist of a public summit that is slated to take place in fall 2016 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Experts in the field, demonstration rides and panel discussions will take place during the summit.
“We can’t solve future or even today’s problems using technology of the past,” said Mayor Mirisch. “A.V.s will take private cars off the road, reduce demand for parking, increase safety and mobility for everyone, including the disabled, and solve the ‘first/last mile’ challenge for residents using the future Purple Line.”
The Purple Line extension through Beverly Hills, which is estimated to be functioning by 2026, will have two stops in the region, but no new public parking is currently planned. The A.V. shuttles will provide on-demand, point-to-point transportation within Beverly Hills, with users requesting a ride using their smart phones.
Phase I of the resolution asks for the city of Beverly Hills to develop partnerships with A.V. manufacturers such as Google and Tesla. The city of Beverly Hills will work with regulators and policy makers and create a white paper outlining the city’s program.