Amsterdam not ready to handle self-driving cars: BCG

De Bosatlas van Amsterdam (Photo: @AmsterdamKunst/Twitter)De Bosatlas van Amsterdam (Photo: @AmsterdamKunst/Twitter)

Amsterdam will need a complete overhaul before self-driving cars can be introduced in the city in a big way, according to a study Boston Consulting Group did for the Dutch capital. As it is, the city can't handle the increase in traffic self driving cars will cause, Het Parool reports. 

Self-driving vehicles is an up-and-coming technology, and the first cars, taxis and buses are expected in large cities within the next decade. The intent is to have the technology affordable for most people by 2035.

But for Amsterdam to cope with this form of transport, "strong intervention" is necessary, according to the report. If nothing changes, the city will be completely clogged by traffic - that's the worst case scenario. The Amsterdam population is also growing strongly, which is expected to also add to traffic on the roads.

Amsterdam will have to adapt its existing infrastructure such as roads, paring lots, traffic signs and traffic lights. Self-driving cars need extra space. Because if they come close to other road users they stop automatically to prevent a collision.

In that light, there are concerns that cyclists and pedestrians will take advantage of this, and not wait for self-driving cars to pass before crossing a road for example. This scenario must also be taken into account. Which means that special routes for self-driving cars should e considered. Extra traffic lights and separate bicycle paths are also good options.

All in all, a big city like Amsterdam has a lot to do before self-driving cars can form part of the landscape. The report does not estimate what such an overhaul will cost, but it will not be cheap.

"It will cost a lot of money to set up the entire inner city of Amsterdam in such a way that self-driving transportation is possible everywhere", traffic alderman Peter Litjens commented to Het Parool. "In addition, there is not enough room to give a new category of transport completely its own section of road." But he does not think it an impossible scenario. "This study helps to realize that self-driving cars will have a huge impact. It is now about making right choices because you can only spend each euro once."

Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen of Infrastructure and Environment complimented Amsterdam on commissioning a study this early in the game. She is a big supporter of self-driving cars and is pushing for new European rules for these type of vehicles so that tests can be done effectively.

"It is complex and we don't yet have many answers. That is precisely why it is good that we do tests to gain experience in practice and make necessary preparations where possible", the Minister said, according to the newspaper .