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Explore the Global Autonomous Vehicle Readiness Index

Managing urban transportation challenges in large metropolitan areas has motivated local government leaders to consider alternative solutions to traditional public transit. More major cities across the globe now have programs in place to test the applications of autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies.

According to the latest worldwide market study by Canalys, four cities are leading the way to being prepared for autonomous vehicles. To date, San Francisco is out in front, followed by Shanghai, Singapore and London.

These rise to the top of a group of cities that, due to their size and populations, have some of the most complex transport networks in the world. The leaders have a significant need for autonomous vehicles to transform and evolve their transit systems, combined with the ability and desire to make it happen.

Autonomous Vehicles Market Development

These conclusions come from the recently published Autonomous Vehicle Readiness Index (AVRI), which ranks, weights and scores cities based on a set of specific criteria drawn from public sources and their own data and estimates.

"Naturally, San Francisco leads the way and is the city best able to implement autonomous vehicles. The Bay Area is renowned as the world’s AV testing capital," said Chris Jones, chief analyst at Canalys.

Large populations play an important part in the AVRI assessment criteria, which is partly why Shanghai rates so highly. Shanghai’s rapid population growth has negatively affected its public transport infrastructure, which in turn has increased the number of vehicles registered.

According to the Canalys assessment, such growth has meant the city has struggled to keep up with its 'green' or sustainability objectives. These factors combine with the fact that Shanghai has significant future strategy ventures and major 'smart city' projects to move it toward the top of the index.

The Shanghai International Automobile City (SIAC) is on the outskirts of the city – the first and biggest automotive technology R&D zone in China. Other factors that propel it toward the top of the index are its propensity to use ride-sharing and the fact that it is a hub for technology and automotive OEMs.

In Singapore, the population is small but growing fast and extremely high density. There is government pressure to limit car ownership. It has a world-class public transport system and, thanks to its small size and short average commuting times, taxi and ride-sharing demand is high.

Singapore has instigated multiple smart city initiatives, including using the One-North business park as a testing zone for a range of urban digital experiments. This focus on specific technology projects has helped AV testing thrive.

Outlook for Autonomous Vehicles in Europe 

Though vehicle ownership in central London is low, in the metropolitan area it is far higher. This makes commuting difficult for many Londoners, who must deal with major traffic issues. Because of both this and the bustling and overcrowded public transport network, there has been a large increase in ride- and car-sharing services.

Several companies have been undertaking AV testing, and London has been involved in several key smart city initiatives, such as setting up a Smart London Innovation Network and using £200 million ($260 million) to demonstrate smart city approaches by 2018, which boost its place in the Canalys rankings.

Canalys has analyzed all the world’s major cities and their findings also show that several key German cities ranked highly in the index.

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