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Who's Calling the Shots On Autonomous Vehicles?

As AVs trickle onto city streets, public leaders should set the rules of the road—before the industry does.
A driverless shuttle sits on display in Austell, Georgia.
A driverless shuttle sits on display in Austell, Georgia. David Goldman/AP Photo

In the middle of the 20th century, brilliant marketing by the American auto industry helped convince the federal government to build the interstate highways on the public dime, lancing cities and stringing them like jewels on an asphalt strand.

Eighty years later, the next automotive revolution is turning from an “if” to a “when,” with huge implications for urban life. Top auto manufacturers promise fully autonomous vehicles by 2021. Self-driving Ubers already rove the streets of Pittsburgh, Tempe, and San Francisco, and a wave of robo-test rides is coming to Phoenix, courtesy of Waymo.