Our Driverless Future – What Technologies Can We Look Forward To?

I was pretty shocked when the former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, a huge San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (Muni) advocate, stated, “”It’s time to accept the fact that Muni will never run on time spend enough to keep the system from collapsing and start thinking about alternatives like driverless cars.”  I completely agree that the government needs to start thinking about alternatives, but that doesn’t mean it should slow down its investment in public transportation (which is already woefully under-funded!).  Driverless cars, and other advanced transportation technologies, still have a few years (at best) before they could begin to improve mobility.  Here are just a few of the fun technologies I’ve been following:

  • Robo-Taxi: Zoox, a start-up in the Bay Area, has a vision for “a sleek, modernistic, deluxe electric taxi with gullwing doors, in which four passengers face one another…Unlike rival designs, it has no front or rear end but can drive equally well in either direction. It has no windshields facing either way, nor does it have a steering wheel or brake pedal.”
  • Hyperloop: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, is currently building the first-ever test track. The hyperloop is “a new transportation system in which passenger-carrying craft would move through low-pressure tubes at high speeds using induction motors and air compressors…Passengers in the pods on the loop are expected to reach speeds of 200-250 MPH even on the short five mile test loop.”
  • Self-Driving Semi-Truck: Daimler created the first-ever 18-wheeler that can drive autonomously on highways.
  • Planes without Pilots: “Government agencies are experimenting with replacing the co-pilot, perhaps even both pilots on cargo planes, with robots or remote operators.”

I can’t wait to see how we’ll be getting around in a few years! Zoox Carhyperloop

About Lauren Isaac

I am the Manager of Transportation Sustainability at Parsons Brinckerhoff. Recently, I won the William Barclay Parsons fellowship for my research proposal to study how the United States government should respond to driverless cars. As I'm working on my research, I thought this blog would help to disseminate my findings and provide a forum for feedback.
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2 Responses to Our Driverless Future – What Technologies Can We Look Forward To?

  1. Lacey Jane Wolfe says:

    I agree that advanced transportation technologies are usually integrated into the transportation system over time. That rate of adoption can also vary widely between regions or even between neighboring states, as in electric vehicle adoption (http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=19131). Regardless, this is a very exciting time for advanced transportation technologies.


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