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. photo: An elderly resident of a village in Japan's Gunma Prefecture.
    Life

    In Japan’s Vanishing Rural Towns, Newcomers Are Wanted

    Facing declining birthrates and rural depopulation, hundreds of “marginal villages” could vanish in a few decades. But some small towns are fighting back.

  2. Design

    Reviving the Utopian Urban Dreams of Tony Garnier

    While little known outside of France, architect and city planner Tony Garnier (1869-1948) is as closely associated with Lyon as Antoni Gaudí is with Barcelona.

  3. Design

    How Advertising Conquered Urban Space

    In cities around the world, advertising is everywhere. We may try to shut it out, but it reflects who we are (or want to be) and connects us to the urban past.

  4. photo: Helsinki's national library
    Design

    How Helsinki Built ‘Book Heaven’

    Finland’s most ambitious library has a lofty mission, says Helsinki’s Tommi Laitio: It’s a kind of monument to the Nordic model of civic engagement.

  5. Tourists walk along the High Line in Manhattan, New York City
    Life

    The Beauty Premium: How Urban Beauty Affects Cities’ Economic Growth

    A study finds that the more beautiful a city is, the more successful it is at attracting jobs and new residents, including highly educated and affluent ones.

×