The future of transportation might be self-driving cars, but they took a jerky, stop-start leap forward in 2016. The low points, like the Mercedes programmed to kill anyone but its occupants, were balanced by Sweden’s smiling robot car, all while we get closer to sharing the roads with autonomous vehicles. The good news is, Americans are so lazy that they’ll probably buy self-driving cars despite being terrified of them. The bad news is that we won’t do anything productive with all the time we save by not driving.
Meanwhile, alternatives to cars keep getting better. In the U.K., the city of Nottingham went all Robin Hood and taxed parking spaces to pay for public transit, and in Norway, a new high-rise ostracizes cars altogether, with parking for 500 bikes instead. And over in New York, you can finally plan a trip that spans buses and subways without driving yourself nuts.
Drones, too, saw progress, with live deliveries in Ukraine dropping off packages in a surprising manner, and Danish eagle babies being trained to fight rogue drones in the air. To paraphrase Ferris Bueller, transport is changing fast right now. If you don’t stop and look around for the self-driving buses once in a while, you might miss them.
If you own a self-driving Mercedes, your car will plough through pedestrians and cyclists rather than put you at risk.
Taxing Nottingham’s parking spaces raised enough money to buy two trams, fix up the railway station, and improve the bus service.
Do you think you could design a better subway system for New York? This game lets you do just that.
A new Norway high-rise has indoor parking for 500 bikes, and produces more solar energy than it can use.
Detroit steel, now going into bikes, not cars.
Getting on an electric bike mightn’t give you the workout of an all-manual bike, but it’s a hell of a lot better than taking the car.
Did you ever wonder how a drone will actually deliver a package to your door? Here’s the lowdown. Spoiler: it lowers the parcel down from the sky on a winch.
Paris shut down a major traffic artery and turned it back into a calm riverside boulevard for pedestrians and cyclists.
Unlike the selfish Mercedes above, Sweden’s self-driving Smiling Car flashes a grin at waiting pedestrians to let them know it’s safe to cross the street.
American drivers trust their own terrible driving skills more than they trust a machine designed solely to protect them and not crash. And yet despite this fear, most of them would rather not bother with pesky, boring tasks like braking and steering.
An inside look at how Google’s autonomous cars interact with their human guardians, including asking for help when they need it–something a human driver would never do.
Will we become more productive when our cars drive us around? Will we get to work on that super-important PowerPoint? Of course not. We’ll all play Candy Crush, and watch cute YouTube dog videos, just like we do on the subway today.
Until this year, the world’s de facto capital had no map that linked up its bus and subway systems on the same piece of paper. That’s finally been fixed. Next stop: world peace.
Many see the move to self-driving vehicles as a way to hand the city back to the people, instead of giving all the rights to the vehicles they get around in. Not Volvo. The Swedish giant has designed its new autonomous buses to honk at and harass pedestrians, just like a human driver.
A squadron of eagle-babies being trained to fight evil quad-copters on the cold city streets? It’s like a 1980s Saturday-morning cartoon plot.