Muni Nation invited Thomas G. Doe, President and Founder of Municipal Market Analytics, Inc., to provide this week’s commentary. Municipal Market Analytics (MMA) is an independent research firm based in Concord, Massachusetts. MMA’s core business is strategic market and credit research on the U.S. municipal market and industry.

A Better Road for Tomorrow Could be Built One Driverless Car at a Time

Automated vehicle companies are in an ideal position to help influence and possibly assist in the funding of short- and medium-term infrastructure investment. Technology requirements likely will dictate that these companies participate in the planning and integration of their technology into existing infrastructure and, perhaps more importantly, new construction. Sections of roads and highways that are vital to the business plans of these companies could be prioritized, as well as improvements funded by private companies. In addition, the evolution of better highways with high speed, safe, and unencumbered vehicles could provide an economical alternative to other public transportation systems, e.g., rail, thus potentially saving scarce budgetary dollars.

States and municipalities control a fundamental asset that is of considerable value to the automobile industry: transportation infrastructure. The public entities should begin to work with the private sector to develop a strategic plan for faster development and integration of new technologies for the public benefit, while also monetizing the value of public infrastructure for the car companies.

Also, the driverless car’s evolution is occurring concurrent to that of drone technology. Therefore automated vehicle participants should have equally motivated partners, i.e., Amazon, FedEx, and UPS, to access established transportation routes that are relatively safe, efficient, and jointly funded by those who use them and those who profit from them. Highways could become multi-layered networks of cars and drones on which goods, services, and people are guided and delivered to specific points with efficiency and effectiveness. But such a future can only be accomplished by the equitable sharing of costs absorbed by both private companies and a taxpaying population – the former profiting from the revenue of products sold and delivered, and the latter from a likely safer and better tomorrow.