The Extra Dimension

The Extra Dimension features deep discussions on how technology intersects with society. Welcome to the heart of the technological convergence.

Transportation – The Future

Episode #17The Fringe #408

What exciting new forms of transportation does the future hold for us? How will self-driven cars change our travel habits? What even is a hyperloop? Ian, Brian, and Ryan have done the research on all of this and more!

Transportation Miniseries


  • Self-driven cars allow the concept of transportation as a service to really come to fruition.
    • The future of Google with Sundar Pichai - YouTube
      • 4:07-4:42
      • The seed that got Buck thinking about this whole topic, especially transportation as a service with self-driven cars.
      • Cars currently sit idle 90% of their lives. If we do not individually own cars, they can drop one person off and immediately go pick up another.
    • Tesla considers its own ride-sharing business - Autoblog
    • Anytime you need to go somewhere, summon a ride. A car comes to pick you up, drives you to where you are going, and drops you off.
    • Car distribution can be tailored based on expected demand.
    • If you have a regular schedule/put things on your calendar ahead of time, the system can dispatch a car to you before you even ask for it.
    • The system can send different types of cars based on the needs of the trip.
      • Going to work? Smart car.
      • Going out to eat with a bunch of friends? Van.
      • Hauling furniture? Flatbed.
      • Price can be tiered by how much you want to be alone.
    • Parking (and its frustrations) are a thing of the past.
      • Self-driven cars can park much closer together.
      • Electric vehicles could plug into the grid, serving as distributed energy storage.
    • Transportation will be much easier for the very young and the very old.
    • Can get stuff done during a commute.
    • Will encourage more urban sprawl.
      • Potential prevention: it will be comparatively expensive to drive out to the middle of nowhere.
  • The Driverless Economy – Federico Pistono – Medium
  • The transformative potential of self-driving electric cars - Vox
    • Electric cars can take almost any form you can imagine.
    • All they need are wheels, a platform for batteries and passenger(s), a user interface, and wires to connect everything.
    • Electric cars convert higher percentage of energy to movement (~60% vs ~20%).
    • Infrastructure is (by necessity) designed for peak use. This applies to not only streets, but also parking.
    • Accidents will be far less common.
      • No need to armor up vehicles, so they can be much lighter.
      • Use less energy to move.
      • Use less material in construction.
    • Light Traffic / MIT Senseable City Lab
      • With only self-driven cars on the road, we won’t need traffic lights. As cars approach intersections, they will coordinate their timings and routes so they have to slow down at the most.
      • Using a slot-based system, pedestrian and bicycle traffic can be accommodated.
    • Way less pollution.
    • Security
      • A lot of data will be collected about individual citizens.
      • Who can access the data? What can it be used for?
      • Targeted advertising will be lucrative, no doubt.
      • A lot of effort will have to be put in to protect against attacks.
  • The future of America is driverless | Verge 2021
    • Self-driving won’t just apply to cars; trucks, ships, trains, etc will be largely automated.
    • Trucks will be able to drive much closer together, reducing drag and saving fuel.
    • Data will have to be shared between manufacturers, so AIs can learn from each other.
    • Real-time reporting of road conditions.
    • Labor concerns as jobs that rely on driving become obsolete.
  • Safety is a huge topic when it comes to self-driven cars
    • How do we decide a self-driven car’s response to ethically tough scenarios? The Messy Ethics of Self Driving Cars - YouTube
      • Self-driven cars will have more opportunity to respond to situations in an ethical manner, as events are often so fast a human would only have instinct.
      • Laws do not cover all ethical conundrums, and sometimes run contrary to what is ethical in a particular situation.
      • Who is at fault if a car does something harmful? The owner of the car? The manufacturer? The programmers?
      • Now that we have neural networks, it may be possible to teach a computer to figure out the answers to ethical conundrums based on examples.
    • Self-driving cars can be fooled pretty easily in ways humans cannot. Google self-driving cars lack a human’s intuition for what other drivers will do.
      • If a driver does something the self-driven car does not expect, it has more trouble reacting than a human driver would.
      • The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration ruled that AI software can count as a driver.
      • Drivers in different regions have different norms. Sometimes a driver has to be aggressive to merge, but if an AI is programmed to follow all laws, it may never make it into the lane.
  • Flying cars Uber's Flying Cars Plan | WIRED
    • Not really cars, but small electric VTOL aircraft.
    • Uber wants to offer an on-demand service that uses them within five years.
    • Infrastructure won’t be much of an issue, since they just need helipads instead of runways. There are already ~6,000 helipads in the US.
  • Hyperloop



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