Read Up On Self-Driving Cars, Because The Future Is Now
People are still pretty mad that we haven’t invented legit, Back To The Future-style hoverboards, but there’s still good transportation news. And, honestly, it’s much cooler than a basic floating skateboard. General Motors and Lyft partnered up to create self-driving cars—yes, that’s right, cars that drive themselves.
After receiving an investment of $500 million from GM earlier this month, Lyft hopes to implement the futuristic vehicles into our daily lives. Now valued at $5.5 billion, the company also received help from other investors, including Janis Capital Management, Rakuten, Didi Kuaidi, and Alibaba.
“We will work with GM to build a network of on-demand autonomous vehicles that will make getting around more affordable, accessible and enjoyable. GM will also establish a series of national rental hubs where Lyft drivers can access short-term vehicles, unlocking new ways for people to earn money without having to own a car,” Lyft announced through their blog.
With the rising use of car service apps (bye, yellow taxi that refuses to take you to Brooklyn) a decline on purchasing cars will likely follow. The market for vehicles is shifting.
“We think there’s going to be more change in the world of mobility in the next five years than there has been in the last 50,” said Daniel Ammann, the president of GM . With GM’s lucrative investment, they’re sure to be at the forefront of the transportation revolution.
But when it comes to this progress in the auto industry, safety will be the number one priority. As expected, all kinds of regulations are going to be slapped on the autonomous cars. These rules will likely slow down the release of self-automated vehicles.
“California recently passed legislation requiring a driver to be behind the wheel of a self-driving car at all times,” the New York Times reported. This basically contradicts the purpose of self-driving cars, especially since human error is the main reason for car-related accidents. The regulations will be based by state, which will vary throughout the U.S.
Without a definitive timeline for the public release of Lyft’s autonomous cars, we’re wondering what the final product could look like. Maybe one day we could have something like the Johnny Cab, from Total Recall, which would actually be a total let down. To be optimistic, we’re thinking of the self-driving cars from Minority Report, which were super sleek. But please, no pre-cogs.
In addition to Lyft, Google, Tesla, and Uber have all devoted resources in the race towards a self-driving car, but one company has shifted gears. In October of 2015, Yamaha and SRI International created an artificial intelligent robot that can drive a motorcycle. It’s called Motobot and it is sick. Don’t let the training wheels fool you.
As Wired reported, “Yamaha is pushing Motobot forward by making it race. Motobot’s goal is to beat the lap times of World Champion motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi. Initial testing for the robo-rider was done on straightaways, but it has graduated to cornering and reached a top speed of 62 mph.” The autobot is programmed with phrases like “I am Motobot! I was created to surpass you,” expressing road rage like the rest of us. Don’t flip off the Motobot.
A robot with road rage driving a motorcycle at sixty mph is pretty cool, but how is this going to help us? With enough trials and data, Yamaha says Motobot will contribute to improving the safety of self-driving cars. By the end of 2017, Yamaha plans for Motobot to be able to complete laps at a speed of 120 mph.
We may not have mastered the flying car like the one in the lift off scene from Blade Runner, but getting from Point A to Point B just got a lot faster—try 750 mph faster. Hyperloop is the going to be the fastest form of transportation between cities that isn’t an aircraft. It’s a high-speed pod set in a low-pressure tube holding either people or cargo. Elon Musk, who pioneered the idea back in 2013, designed this transportation system as a pod that levitates and accelerates forward with the use of a motor. The lack of friction is a huge advantage in increasing the speed of the ride. Unlike your morning commute from hell, Hyperloop will only make one stop to it’s designated destination, meaning an even faster travel time.
“We’re always going to have air travel,” Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop Technologies, recently told Engadget in an interview. “[We’ll] always have some form of cars on a road and those aren’t going away, but that high-speed experience between cities, long distances or short commuter distances really does rewrite the rules of how real estate could be developed, cities could evolve, where we study, and where we work. It’s pretty exciting and distance starts to melt away the different barriers of how we live on the planet.” Construction for Hyperloop is planned to start this year.
The future is here! And it’s fast as hell.
Photos via Yamaha and National Geographic. Main image by Kathryn Chadason.