Silicon ValleyÃ¢â‚¬s gearheads promise that autonomous vehicles are closer to reality than we think. WeÃ¢â‚¬ll all be zipping around in our driverless pods by 2020, they say. Others suggest we pump the breaks. Because thereÃ¢â‚¬s a lot of work to do before AVs are ready for human transport.
Autonomous vehicles raise big questions for cities, many of which have been raised and addressed before: Will they make our streets safer and our commutes more productive? Will they reduce the need for parking or lead to more suburban sprawl?
But some of the potential implications that are not quite as self-evident, like, what happens when a bumpy, long AV commute makes us Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ vomit? No seriously. If you follow the vomit, you might actually learn something unexpected about where our autonomous vehicle future is headed.
And what do we do when one of the most world-changing technologies is at our fingertips, but is not yet ready for our behinds? Some of todayÃ¢â‚¬s most far-along AV companies are focused on transporting goods, not people. After all, your burrito wonÃ¢â‚¬t suffer from a bumpy ride or file a complaint.
WeÃ¢â‚¬ll take on these questions in the second episode of Technopolis, the new podcast from CityLab about how technology is remaking, disrupting, and sometimes overrunning our cities.
We talk with Nan Ransahoff, whose startup Nuro is betting that AVs will transport your groceries before they transport you. You may not have heard of Nuro yet, but investors sure have: Softbank poured $940 million into the company in February. And we talk with transportation consultant Jeff Tumlin who helps us spin out some wild future scenarios, from AVs with smiley faces to new criminal penalties for pedestrians.
Will our driverless future be a utopia or a dystopia? That depends in part on a lot of decisions that are still up for grabs. Join us on Episode 2 to talk about the questions we need to be asking.