BONSALL/VALLEY CENTER, CA—Driverless technology, run by an app, will allow Lilac Hills Ranch to operate as a pedestrian-friendly community with state-of-the-art sustainability features, developer Accretive Investments Inc.’s president Jon Rilling tells GlobeSt.com. The proposed development is a half mile off the I-15 freeway to the east here and is the first master-planned community to go through the new county general plan process.
Lilac Hills Ranch will be the first community in the state
that will implement this technology.
The development will feature a village-style approach whereby every home will be within a 10-minute walk to the grocery store and village center. The proposed 1,700-unit build out in five phases will have a K-8 school, a 50-room country inn, senior center, water-reclamation plant and other amenities and is expected to go before the County Board of Supervisors soon. It’s been approved by county staff and the planning commission, and Accretive plans to start development in about a year. We spoke exclusively with Rilling about the proposed driverless technology and how it will impact community development.
GlobeSt.com: Please explain how driverless technology is coming to this community.
Rilling: We’ve collaborated with 5B Robotics, a local technology firm in Carlsbad, CA, to introduce in concept autonomous or driverless vehicles in the Lilac Hills Ranch community that would provide services to establish a more pedestrian-oriented community and more interconnected neighborhoods. It’s widely accepted that people will walk more if there are alternative modes of travel available to them. This technology would allow somebody to pull up an app on their smartphone and order a driverless electric vehicle to pick them up and take them to another point in the community. It could also be used to deliver groceries or household goods. Technology like this can reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by reducing the number of car trips that a household would need to take in a given day.
The goal is to use 21st-Century technology to augment and promote the pedestrian experience in the community. The plan is to integrate these vehicles throughout the community, and they would only be available to residents in the community to help people with daily household chores. They can also be used to increase safety by providing advanced life-support systems such as automatic external defibrillators. We’re primarily focused on introducing the technology and allowing the use to be adapted and used as necessary. It works on a localized virtual rail network—not a GPS system—that keeps the vehicles on a defined pathway. If someone summons a car, it will be preprogrammed to follow a certain route, and the resident can take it anywhere within the community. The car can come in a lot of different shapes and forms; it’s platform adaptable.
Last week, during the approval of the SANDAG San Diego Forward regional plan, there was a discussion of the future of our roads and infrastructure being focused on driverless technology. This will be the first community in the state that will implement that technology.
GlobeSt.com: How quickly will this type of technology spread to other communities?
Rilling: As long as somebody sees that it works and that it’s popular and has a market, it will be copied rather quickly. We see it being mainstream in a short time after we introduce it. It’s already being used on private campuses like Google and Tesla, but no one has done it on a community-wide basis yet. We’ll be the leader in this technology.
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