São Paulo, BR is preparing
More populous than Mexico City, but with a metro system just one-third the size, São Paulo has long struggled with the economic and human cost of poor mobility, relying heavily on the largest bus fleet in the world (over 15,000 vehicles). Research and development on AVs got an early start due to the metropolitan area’s status as the hub of Brazil’s automotive industry. The first on-road trials date back to October 2013, and a number of the city’s technical universities, in partnership with global automakers such as Scania, are spearheading the ongoing development of a variety of AV trucks, taxis, and passenger cars.
As the city navigates Brazil’s ongoing political and economic crises, which have direct impacts on the municipal budget, planning for AVs has inevitably taken on a new pragmatism. The city will look to its earlier efforts to regulate transportation network companies (TNCs) for an edge, including a 2016 law that imposes a distance-based tax on TNCs and formally distinguishes rideshare from private taxi service. Both rules will be extended to the AV realm and will provide leverage to foster higher occupancy use for AVs.