Smart Cities

Transportation tech such as autonomous vehicles and dockless bikes critical to Austin, Texas

"Automated technologies are really important to Austin," Robert Spillar, director of transportation, City of Austin, tells TechRepublic's Teena Maddox at SXSW.

Transportation via autos or bikes is critical to the city of Austin's traffic flow, and Robert Spillar, director of transportation for the city of Austin, Texas, spoke to TechRepublic Senior Writer Teena Maddox at SXSW about the future of life on the Austin roads.

"Automated technologies are really important to Austin," Spillar said. "We've been the focus of some early introductions of automated vehicles, the Waymo cars or other providers. We're excited. We're looking at a new curb space management pilot. We're looking for ways to improve curb space in downtown, specifically, for different types of services."

Spillar said, "We've piloted and launched car-share services in Austin, Car to Go or ZipCar, or bike programs. We're prepping a pilot this summer on dockless bike programs, to add dockless bikes to Austin's very successful B-cycle program here. We have a request for personal delivery devices, the small delivery robots that operate on sidewalks. We've gone to our council and received permission to have those operate on our streets, and, hopefully delivery services here in town."

SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of autonomous vehicles (Tech Pro Research)

"We're also piloting an expansion of our successful petty-cab system using electric-assist bicycles. We have a large program of electrification with our partners, Austin Energy. We have a number of charging stations around town, encouraging new electric vehicles to come here. Maven announced it will open an all-electric car service in Austin. We have a lot going on; not all of them directed by the city, but many of directed by our partners, like Rocky Mountain Institute and Austin Energy, as well as the Austin Transportation Department."

Spillar added, "They're in start-up mode. In the last couple of weeks, they announced they'll open in Austin. They'll bring a completely electric car rental fleet. Hopefully our transportation network companies will have opportunities to rent vehicles for two-, three-, four- weeks at a time to use on Austin streets."

"We're eager about electrification. It's one of three disruptive technologies coming to market, along with shared and autonomous vehicle. We want to innovate in all three areas. We hope to dramatically change the trajectory electric-car introduction in Austin. We have a net zero goal by 2040, seeking to get to net zero greenhouse gases. The biggest concern now are on the road, non-point source emissions, basically tail pipes. If we move to electric, it greatly helps us move towards a net-zero environment," he said.

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Image: iStock/RoschetzkyIstockPhoto

About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

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