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

Lauren Isaac is the Director of Business Initiatives for the North American operation of EasyMile. Easymile provides electric, driverless shuttles that are designed to cover short distances in multi-use environments. Prior to working at EasyMile, Lauren worked at WSP where she was involved in various projects involving advanced technologies that can improve mobility in cities. Lauren wrote a guide titled “Driving Towards Driverless: A Guide for Government Agencies” regarding how local and regional governments should respond to autonomous vehicles in the short, medium, and long term. In addition, Lauren maintains the blog, “Driving Towards Driverless”, and has presented on this topic at more than 75 industry conferences. She recently did a TEDx Talk, and has been published in Forbes and the Chicago Tribune among other publications.
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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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