California’s Bay Area Prepares for a Driverless Future

by Erin Baldassari : mercurynews – excerpt

Six cities in the region are getting $5 million to fund pilot programs aimed at integrating autonomous vehicles and solving general traffic congestion problems.

(TNS) —  SAN FRANCISCO — Within two to three years, bicyclists in Emeryville and Los Gatos will be able to download an app to get more green lights at intersections. Patients at the Veterans Administration Palo Alto Medical Center will be hopping on an autonomous shuttle for appointments. And, within a few more years, BART riders in Dublin will have a driverless vehicle picking them up and dropping them off at the station.

It’s all part of an effort to prepare the Bay Area for a future with self-driving cars, said Robert Rich, a planner at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the region’s transportation planning agency. When that future comes, cars will be expected to communicate not just with each other, but also with traffic signals and other infrastructure, he said… (more)

Companies Will Likely Have First Dibs on Fully Autonomous Vehicles

by JC Reind : govtech– excerpt

Top automakers say the first generation of the technology will be used for commercial purposes, not by the general public.

(TNS) — LAS VEGAS – Auto companies at this week’s CES tech convention affirmed plans to have their first true self-driving cars in production by 2021 — or in some cases earlier.

But don’t expect to see these vehicles on any dealership lots.

This first generation of autonomous vehicles will, in most cases, not be offered for sale or lease to the general public, but instead would be reserved for commercial use by ride-hailing fleets and delivery services… (more)

 

China’s tests out world’s first driverless train that runs on virtual rails

By

bus_train11

Look Ma, No rails! or Medians!

The Hunan city of Zhuzhou is currently testing out an unmanned train that doesn’t run on rails. You know, like a bus.

The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) is being dubbed by Chinese state media the “world’s first smart rapid rail bus,” whatever that means. The train/bus (trus?) was first shown off in June this year. It uses sensors to determine the dimensions of the road and make a virtual track for itself to ride along…(more)

This kind of technology may be the best argument for putting a halt on new projects while we finish the ones underway now. Eliminating the rails, medians and other “traditional” infrastructure elements costing billions of dollars now, could be the cheap public transportation answer in the very near future. Give the public a break while the technology catches up.