In 1956, the development of the US interstate highway system, “served a utopian vision of cities in which anyone could drive anywhere, anytime, and park at the destination,” says Peter Norton, an associate professor at the University of Virginia. But “it destroyed much of the urban America it was meant to serve.”
Autonomy is America’s chance for a transportation “do-over.” The country has two paths in front of it—utopian or dystopian. Which it will be is a matter of policy as much as technology or economics. “If we rebuild the landscape for autonomous vehicles we may make it unsuitable for anything else—including walking,” says Norton. “Before we make autonomous cars the solution, we must formulate the problem correctly. Until we do, we risk accelerating a journey to the wrong destination.”
This week, Quartz explores the topic of self-driving cars in our field guide, Autonomous vehicles: Let’s try that again. The guide includes:
- A QZ&A with a Chinese AV entrepreneur who believes government regulation will be key to China’s success
- A timeline tracing the evolution of self-driving cars
- An essay by Michael Coren, the field guide’s co-author, laying out what’s at stake in the decisions we make about AVs today
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