How driverless cars are set to reinvent and humanise our streets

by: : ft – excerpt

This is a must read for anyone who appreciates contradictions. The future is UNKNOWN, and if we are lucky the tech industry manipulators will dance on each others toes long enough to allow the public to decide what we want.

Private vehicles could soon be replaced by autonomous ride-hailing services and even ‘helicopter’ cars.

When the muddy streets of San Francisco were laid out during the heady days of the gold rush, riding a horse was the fastest way to get around. Today a new type of vehicle can be seen cruising the city: the driverless car.

With their spinning radar sensors and bulky camera arrays, these vehicles have the awkward look of a technology that is not quite mature. Yet just as the automobile gave rise to paved streets and suburban sprawl, the driverless car is set to radically reshape the cities we live in…

Anti-car, pro-cyclists, pro-public transit industry people are fighting a losing battle and they know it. They are trying desperately to hang onto their piece of the pie so they can flip it for top dollar, nervously watching all the hot new options that are popping up. Those options are not all in sync with the current urban future plans.

Let’s face it, bike lanes and sidewalk treatments are old news and investors are always looking for THE NEXT BIG THING. If taxpayers are lucky, the self-propelling helicars will overtake High Speed Rail before that projects digs us into a huge debt. So far, they are in the land-grabbing stage. The assets can always be sold.

“We are looking at the decaying infrastructure of the last century and beyond,” says Shervin Pishevar, an early investor in Uber and a co-founder of Hyperloop One, which aims to create 700mph tubes that will move people faster than aircraft. “Cities are effectively taken hostage by the automobile designs of the 20th century.” His solution is to design and build new cities, in conjunction with hyperloop networks, which will feature lush, green urban centres and underground tunnels for transportation. He refers to this as “re-terraforming the earth.”…

Great idea. Build completely new cities from scratch that you want to live in and see who else wants to live in them.

“It is really important that we don’t allow autonomous vehicles to undo the gains that cities have made in the last 20 years in terms of rebuilding the city centre and creating vibrant downtowns,” says Merker…

The economics of driverless cars

When Uber was founded, one of co-founder Travis Kalanick’s goals was not just to create a transportation app but to make car ownership obsolete. Achieving that would mean driving down the cost of Uber’s rides so that they are eventually cheaper than owning your own car…

This looks like a huge environmental impact. Where are the calls for an Environmental Impact Reviews and studies?

… (more)

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