Madison McVeigh/CityLab

In Episode 2 of our new podcast Technopolis, we take you on a tour of autonomous vehicles’ little-considered effects.

Listen and subscribe to Technopolis: Apple Podcasts / Stitcher / Google Play / Spotify

Silicon Valley’s gearheads promise that autonomous vehicles are closer to reality than we think. We’ll all be zipping around in our driverless pods by 2020, they say. Others suggest we pump the breaks. Because there’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 … 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 today’s most far-along AV companies are focused on transporting goods, not people. After all, your burrito won’t suffer from a bumpy ride or file a complaint.

We’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.

Listen and subscribe to Technopolis: Apple Podcasts / Stitcher / Google Play / Spotify

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of L.A.'s vacant Hawthorne Federal Building.
    Equity

    The Trump Administration Wants to Relocate Skid Row to This Federal Building

    Los Angeles homeless providers were rebuffed when they asked to use Cesár Pelli’s Hawthorne Building, which the White House is eyeing to relocate Skid Row residents.

  2. Groups of people look at their phones while sitting in Washington Square Park in Manhattan.
    Life

    How Socially Integrated Is Your City? Ask Twitter.

    Using geotagged tweets, researchers found four types of social connectedness in big U.S. cities, exemplified by New York, San Francisco, Detroit, and Miami.

  3. a photo of a woman on a SkyTrain car its way to the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia.
    Transportation

    In the City That Ride-Hailing Forgot, Change Is Coming

    Fears of congestion and a powerful taxi lobby have long kept ride-hailing apps out of transit-friendly Vancouver, British Columbia. That’s about to change.  

  4. Equity

    What Is Loitering, Really?

    America’s laws against lingering have roots in Medieval and Elizabethan England. Since 1342, the goal has always been to keep anyone “out of place” away.

  5. Transportation

    When a Transit Agency Becomes a Suburban Developer

    The largest transit agency in the U.S. is building a mixed-use development next to a commuter rail station north of Manhattan.

×