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There are many uncertainties about the emergence and diffusion of connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs) across the world. That’s the conclusion of a new academic report on how urban tourism may be impacted by technological advances. The report’s authors Oxford University’s Dr Debbie Hopkins and Surrey’s Professor Scott Cohen have imagined how CAVs may impact cities in terms of tourism transport, spatial changes, tourism employment and night-life.

The report is based on the assumption that CAVs may be on the mass market as soon as 2025, first in parts of Asia, Europe and the U.S.

According to the report, ‘The deployment of CAVs in cities will affect hotels, events, restaurants and bars in ways not yet meaningfully considered by the tourism, hospitality and events industries, or the academy’.

CAVs may be used for a number of controversial functions. For example, the report says sex in moving CAVs may becomes a growing phenomenon. It says ‘private CAVs may also be put to commercial use, as it is just a small leap to imagine Amsterdam’s Red Light District on the move’.

Evening CAV city tours may also become more popular, as drunk-driving will no longer be an issue when riding in a CAV. According to the report: ‘Stag and hen dos may become spread out, as opposed to concentrated in particular bar districts, and reliant on CAVs to move drunken revellers across greater distances between drinks in the urban night, perhaps even crossing multiple cities’.

On a more serious note, the report also warns on the potential for terrorist attacks using CAVs, which will likely be able to travel unoccupied into popular urban areas

At a business level, CAVs may be used for the purpose of sleeping and may have an impact on the hotel sector. The report says: ‘CAVs as ‘moving motels’ would affect both business and leisure travellers… and would not just be limited to autonomous campervans. Thus the present day night-time motorways, highways and autobahns, occupied predominantly by heavy-goods-vehicles moving goods across the country, may become filled by slow-moving CAVs with sleeping occupants’.

Restaurants may find themselves in competition with CAVs that become moving restaurants or combine dining with sightseeing.

Automation will also affect urban tourism in a number of ways. Drivers of city bus tours will be replaced with stewards or guides. This will be necessary – certainly in the medium-term – as human engagement remains important while CAV technology becomes more reliable.

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