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How Vegas Will Monetize Autonomous Vehicles

The city of Las Vegas is exploring ways to charge autonomous vehicles for pulling up alongside a curb to make deliveries.

Michael Sherwood, director of innovation and technology for the City of Las Vegas, said his team is testing out camera technology and has a “mini-RFP out” to explore how the city could monitor curb usage.

“One of the biggest challenges we look at, not today but in the future, is going to be curb space,” Sherwood said while speaking on a panel at Hitachi Next in San Diego today.

“As autonomous vehicles start becoming more prevalent… what happens when the most expensive part of transportation, the driver, is removed? Where are all these vehicles going to go? Where are they going to park? How are they going to deliver goods and services?”

Sherwood described a scenario when autonomous vehicles are used to deliver packages from Amazon, FedEx and UPS, all arrive at a home or office block at the same time.

“If you think traffic is bad today, it could be twice as bad in the future,” he said.

“One of the things we are looking at doing is using video analytics to come up with a way to monetize the curb and provide a real time API to large or small companies that have autonomous vehicles, so they will know what curb space is available and use their own algorithms to change their pattern of delivery.”

By using cameras to monitor the curbside, cities could charge delivery companies for the amount of time they occupied the space, Sherwood said.

Autonomous vehicles will have flow on effects for many adjacent industries, including how real estate is used. For example a car that can drop you off and drive itself home never has to park in the city.

Central parking garages occupying prime real estate will be knocked down and moved outside the city where the land is cheaper.

Monetizing curb space could also help cities replace the revenue they will lose from parking spaces, Sherwood said.

Traffic Control
Las Vegas is turning to emerging technologies to help better manage its traffic flow.

In the not-so-distant future, the city could use analytics to monitor video footage from its existing infrastructure “and adjust traffic flow automatically through AI” Sherwood said.

“It seems like a far reach but if you go downstairs to the Hitachi showroom and you start weaving it together, you can see that picture. It’s possible and it’s not far off from making that a reality.”

During Hitachi Vantara’s annual user conference in San Diego this week the company showcased its technology solutions including video- and LiDAR-based analytics platforms that captures and analyses real-time movements of people and objects.

Open Data Initiative
As part of its technology program Las Vegas has made 400 data sets available for free through its open data portal.

“In Las Vegas we are not going to monetize the data at all. It belongs to the people, you’ve paid your taxes now we are going to provide it openly to the community. Hopefully that spurs economic development and companies use that data and use it in better ways than we could use it,” Sherwood said.

The aim, Sherwood said, is to encourage citizens and private enterprises to use the data sets to create new products and services which will improve consumers lives. For example a developer created an Amazon Alexa skill using the cities restaurant grades, so consumers can consult their smart speaker before selecting a restaurant.

PaceVegas is the Publication of Everything About Las Vegas. Known for it's hard hitting exposes of crimes, the underworld and everything interesting about Vegas, it's won numerous awards from those who are scared to actually read the stories.

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