COVID-19, Climate Change, and Automotive 2.0 Mean Infrastructure Changes on the Horizon

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Foley & Lardner LLPGovernments around the globe are facing a classic chicken and egg conundrum – do they wait for automotive 2.0 to arrive en masse before they invest untold sums of money in infrastructure to support the Automotive 2.0 movement, or do they invest now and hope the Automotive 2.0 arrives as promised (and without technology they didn’t anticipate)? This conundrum, like almost all things in life, is complicated by the everyday responsibilities of governments over the “if-comes” of the future. Add into this setting a global pandemic and climate change, and government authorities around the globe have their hands full with an ever dynamic and never-ending list of challenges. But, this scenario doesn’t mean governments shouldn’t act, nor does it mean they don’t have leverage over how the Automotive 2.0 infrastructure gets integrated into their infrastructure framework.

Not only do governments face a future where they need connected and electrified roadways, but they are also dealing with more the more pressing issues of today – climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. The world at large continues to work through a global pandemic jeopardizing the health and safety of their constituents. This same pandemic continues to keep workers at home and off public transit, upending the traditional notion of office working, mass transit, and commuter lifestyles. Simultaneously, the predictable weather patterns of the past have become less predictable. Climate change continues to change weather patterns around the globe, often overwhelming local infrastructure. Cities are being inundated with temperatures, precipitation, and wind-patterns far in excess of what infrastructure can regularly withstand necessitating the need for improvements.

As these environmental changes happen in real time, the local, regional, and national governments are trying to determine how mass transit and commuting will fit into the new normal of a post-COVID world and what infrastructure upgrades are needed to handle future weather patterns. As these changes are evaluated, governments are looking at how these required changes will drive opportunities to integrate their communities into the automotive 2.0 movement at the local level in a way that best elevates their own constituents.

The Automotive 2.0 movement is not just electrified vehicles charging in their parking spots, nor is it just robo-taxis driving commuters from point A to B. It is an improved and diverse last mile transit system getting commuters from their transit stop to their final point of arrival through bike share, scooter share, or autonomous shuttles. It is robo-delivery trucks from online retailers and delivery companies delivering packages throughout the community without the need for human intervention. And it is your ordinary vehicle communicating road and traffic conditions to the cloud and smart traffic lights adjusting to traffic patterns in real time.

In order for Automotive 2.0 compatible systems to roll out, communities must install connected infrastructure with reliable data access, improved road-beds, improved wastewater handling systems, reliable energy grids, and a dynamic environment capable of handling unpredictable weather patterns and road conditions. As communities around the globe seek to modernize their own infrastructure for the realities of the modern world, they can take this opportunity to capture the Automotive 2.0 leap with a fully connected infrastructure in anticipation of the next generation of commuting. This means as they look to improve roadways and waste-water management systems, laying high speed fiber and 5g networking infrastructure, providing reliable electrical hookups for charging stations, upgrading traffic management systems, and redesigning roadways for autonomous and semi-autonomous systems. Communities can take the challenges presented by COVID and climate change as an opportunity to modernize infrastructure and propel their community forward.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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