May Mobility’s autonomous shuttle service in Columbus, Ohio, will open to the general public beginning Dec. 10th, offering free rides and a glimpse into the future of transportation.
From the Mall to Lincoln, Neb., planners across the United States are pushing slow-rolling roboshuttles as a way to dip their toes into greater automation.
The stubby, bread-box-looking vehicles go about 10 mph, and boosters say they’re a relatively easy and potentially transformative tool for moving people, even as autonomous cars, trucks and minivans continue their development and rollout. Others counsel caution, raising concerns about safety, oversight and economic viability, and fears about adding congestion to roadways and eliminating jobs.
The flying car — the stuff of sci-fi dreams for decades — could become a reality next year and spark the biggest disruption to urban life since the postwar baby boom and interstate highway system.
From “The Jetsons” to “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Blade Runner” and “Back to the Future,” the flying car has been pop culture’s ultimate symbol of the future. Now, aerospace giants like Boeing (BA) and Airbus(EADSY), Silicon Valley startups like Uber, and auto giants like Toyota (TM), Volkswagen (VWAGY) and Daimler (DDAIF) are racing to make short-range air travel part of daily life.
“It’s coming because it has to,” said Robin Lineberger, the leader of Deloitte’s Aerospace & Defense industry practice. “We have no more room on the ground to move cars around.”
Mary T. Barra, the chief executive of General Motors, said the company is “on track” to roll out a ride-sharing service in 2019 that would rely on autonomous vehicles, a development that would advance the already-heated race to bring a self-driving car to market.
“We’re on track, with our rate of learning, to be able to do that next year,” Ms. Barra said at DealBook’s Playing for the Long Term conference. She added that the company had a strategy to show how its vehicles are safer than human drivers. The vehicles can currently run safely at speeds of up to about 30 miles per hour, and the service will be limited to a small geographical area, Ms. Barra said.
She did not say where the service would operate but noted that the company has been testing in San Francisco.
As political campaigns enter the last stretch of the midterm season, Uber and Lyft are serious about getting voters to the ballot box on Nov. 6.
Ride-hailing company Uber announced it’s offering free rides for Uber users who need transportation to their polling places on Election Day.
The company will display a “Get to the Polls” button on the Uber app to help users find their designated polling place and allow users to book a free ride. The company has also partnered with the nonprofit civic engagement group When We All Vote to distribute voter registration information via the Uber app and help drivers and riders register to vote.
“Using our technology and resources, we can help make it easier for every Uber rider in the U.S. to get to their polling place at the push of a button,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a company statement on Oct. 4.