DARPA Autonomous Vehicle Research And Self-Driving Cars

Home of DARPA

Aerial view of The Pentagon, home of DARPA

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been on the cutting edge of innovating homeland security since the age of Sputnik, but the DARPA autonomous vehicle research is prompting a collaboration among different industries committed to changing how consumers (not just the military) travel in the decades to come.

As soon as the Russian satellite, Sputnik, was launched in 1957, the United States was on high alert. It is that momentous event that led to the creation of one of the most innovative agencies in the Federal government, thanks to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which, at the time simply went by Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) —the “D” wouldn’t be added until 1972—was assembled to push America to be leaders of strategic technologies rather than play catch-up. In the decades since its inception, DARPA has gone on to influence and initiate projects that have moved homeland security forward in unique and singular ways as well as establishing benchmark technologies that forever changed the face of the world. Recently, DARPA autonomous vehicle research laid the groundwork for the self-driving cars that are creating a new way of consumer travel across a variety of key industries, and thanks to them, momentum is building.

A government agency on the cutting edge

From the day it was created in 1958, DARPA has been pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation. It initiated rocket research that same year and turned over the information it gathered to create the Television and Infrared Observation Satellites (TIROS) Program to NASA in 1959, which would become the basis for today’s global weather forecasting, reporting and researching by the Department of Defense (DoD), NASA and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Organization (NOAO).

DARPA’s purpose

While the agency’s focus is and always has been national security and the technologies developed are heavily military and government based, DARPA’s overarching goal is to push technology forward in a global sense. The group has been instrumental in the advancement of some of the most critical innovations and technologically advanced inventions in the world. Among these are the internet—which began life as ARPAnet back in the 1960s—the GPS and the computer mouse.

DARPA is constantly changing and innovating, never staying with one team for too long in order to remain nimble and fresh. Part of that fluidity is to create access to its tools for universities, industries and small businesses in addition to the armed forces. The agency’s goal is to constantly move forward by addressing real world concerns, strategically and practically. While the bulk of its research is centered around defending the country and creating better ways to arm and support the military, DARPA makes its technologies and findings available across all manner of divisions—universities, small businesses, industry and the public—as well as encouraging input and proposals from those same communities. In the words of the organization’s website, DARPA “works within an innovation ecosystem that includes academic, corporate and governmental partners, with a constant focus on the Nation’s military Services, which work with DARPA to create new strategic opportunities and novel tactical options.”

And that is where the role of DARPA autonomous vehicle research in the creation of the self-driving car comes in.

The story of The Grand Challenges

In the early 2000s, Congress gave DARPA a mandate—implement unmanned vehicles into the military by 2015. Making actual working self-driving cars and transportation had been a quest since the days of Leonardo da Vinci and while the unmanned Mars Exploration Rovers from NASA would be launched in 2003, nothing sustainable for broader, everyday use had come to fruition as yet. To successfully pursue DARPA autonomous vehicle research, the agency felt it needed to do something more than go through the usual internal swirling of ideas or discovery process. This whole idea of pushing the boundaries of autonomous vehicle technology required inspiring and pushing the envelope in a wholly unique way. DARPA did this by creating a contest and inviting a variety of great minds to use their skills and imagination to come up with different solutions from which to choose the best possible features. The organization asked for and received Congressional approval for the event and sent out a broad net to the academic and engineering community to participate. This became a seminal moment in the self-driving car movement.

The First Grand Challenge

On July 30, 2002, DARPA took over The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, attracting hundreds of techies and observers, to announce The First DARPA Grand Challenge. The object of the contest was to create an autonomous robotic vehicle that could complete an as-yet-to-be-determined 150-200 mile course between Los Angeles and Las Vegas for a $1 million prize. The terrain was to reflect the desert conditions of places like Fallujah where U.S. troops were engaging in combat. By the time of the actual challenge on March 13, 2004, 15 vehicles of the original 21 qualifiers were deemed road ready on a 142-mile gruelling course across the Mojave Desert between Barstow, California and just across the border of Nevada in Primm. All of the finalists used a combination of sensors, robotics and cameras to make their dream of an autonomous ground vehicle a reality. Unfortunately, out of those that ran the course, the furthest any of them got was the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Red Team car, which traveled 7.4 miles of the course. A successful robotic car would remain elusive and the prize money unclaimed.

The Second Grand Challenge

Photo by DARPA via Wikimedia Commons

Stanford Red Team, “Stanley,” winner of the Second Grand Challenge

But neither DARPA nor the contestants were daunted. The agency was heartened by the commitment shown by the different participants and announced the Second DARPA Grand Challenge a day later. This time it was to be a 132-mile course to be run, once again, through the Mojave Desert in the Autumn of 2005 with a prize of $2 million to the winning crew. Teams took what they learned in the first challenge and reworked their vehicles, incorporating various sensors, cameras and more to prepare. 195 teams entered and 5 successfully finished with Stanford University’s Red Team winning with their “Stanley” robotic car and earning the prize money. Now that the academic, engineering and tech community had shown a proficiency with navigating the difficult desert terrain outlined in the course, DARPA put its mind around how to encourage autonomous vehicle innovation on city streets.

The DARPA Urban Challenge

Carnegie Melon’s Tartan team wins DARPA Urban Challenge. Photo by Rob NREC via Wikimedia Commons

The third robotic vehicle challenge was conducted in 2007 and called The DARPA Urban Challenge. The call to action now required driverless vehicles to be able to navigate a complicated course on a staged environment in Victorville, California in which they would need to move through traffic and obstacles while obeying California traffic laws. Again, the prize money was $2 million. 11 teams entered and 6 finished. The “Tartan Racing” team from Carnegie Mellon University placed in first, taking the prize money and all that had been learned through each challenge to start serious research on making self-driving cars a reality for all.

Influencing unmanned vehicle innovation for all

These races sparked the imaginations of the engineering and automotive community in an expansive way. Virginia Tech, one of the finalists in the urban challenge, went on to collaborate with TORC, a company founded by alumni of the Virginia Tech robotics department, to create Grand Unmanned Support Surrogates (GUSS) for the U.S. Marine Corps. The autonomous ground vehicle is designed for mass casualty evacuations from combat/compromised areas, re-supplying of and carrying heavy loads for troops. Per a 2015 article written by Chris Urmson for the National Academy of Engineering, DARPA’s challenges threw down a gauntlet to the engineering community as a whole to take the innovation inspired by and lessons learned from the grand challenges and bring them to life in the real world. According to Urmson, technology used to develop consumer based autonomous features—LIDAR, radar, camera—were those overarching tools used to meet the DARPA Grand Challenges. While the purpose of these contests was to push forward engineering to meet the Congressional mandate for self-driving cars in the military by 2015, the benefits have been much farther reaching.

In the world of the military, unmanned is not the same as autonomous. Many of the unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) created are remote controlled or tele-operated. However, these machines can get into spots and deal with sensitive situations, such as the active mine removal capability of the Abrams Panther and small space surveillance with the urban robot (URBOT) also known as Urbie, without endangering the lives of soldiers. But, autonomous ground vehicles are making their way out of the armed forces and into the consumer world on a large scale. This is all thanks to the imagination and creativity DARPA autonomous vehicle research inspired and pushed forward with its grand challenges. The urban challenge, in particular, opened up a doorway to seeing how the world of self-driving cars could have everyday implications.

The role of DARPA autonomous vehicle research in the military

Since the first three grand challenges, DARPA has pursued a robotics challenge, a cyber-challenge and is currently ruminating over what next to present to the scientific/technology/engineering community. But the DARPA autonomous vehicle research inspiration has gone far beyond unmanned ground vehicles and the driverless car.

By U.S. Navy, Photo by John Williams

Sea Hunter, the DARPA supported ACTUV

As part of the agency’s focus on anti-submarine warfare (ASW), it has created the ACTUV or Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel. Its role is to quietly track diesel powered enemy subs through miles of sea for long periods of time without a single crew person aboard. With everything DARPA autonomous vehicle research has prompted, the word “vehicle” is far-reaching and addressing all of the areas that are sensitive to homeland security—land, sea, air and space.

Among these are unmanned aerial vehicles like the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN), a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft system that provides consistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) that can engage mobile targets anywhere around the world anytime of the day or night. There is also the dual purpose Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES), which is part of the Transformer TX program. It’s capable of traveling by air and land. It can drop supplies from the air to specific points as well as extract soldiers and casualties from combat zones. But it can also drive on land. It is part of the Vehicle Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Skunk Works project with Lockheed Aircraft and others.

By DARPA via Wikimedia Commons

An artist’s rendering of the HTV-2 in flight

In the realm of space, beyond the unmanned transporters to Mars, there have been the hypersonic technology vehicles (HTV) created through the Falcon project. Both the HTV-1 and the HTV-2 were tested then scrapped, but enough research was compiled to push forward other potential uses and ways to lower costs. These two vessels were unmanned spacecraft that could function without crew and gather information and drop supplies at space stations. Now working under the name of the Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) program, these types of vehicles are being considered with the parameters of cost efficiency, feasibility and effectiveness.

Drones are certainly among those unmanned vehicles to be counted as one of the things DARPA’s research has inspired. These small, economical surveillance and delivery systems serve a variety of purposes and have already infiltrated civilian life, for fun and business. But the focus now is on making it possible for UGV’s to transport human beings on a grand scale—the autonomous car and beyond—both in combat and day-to-day life.

DARPA of tomorrow

What the world of tomorrow looks like is anybody’s guess, but DARPA’s role as a leader in advanced technology for homeland security and consumer use is something the organization hopes to maintain. It has a far-reaching grasp on a variety of inventions and research is constant.

As we look ahead to unmanned transport, what DARPA has done to promote the autonomous vehicle technology most of us know today is vast. The Grand Challenges alone created an extraordinary renaissance in self-driving cars and pushed forward highly beneficial unmanned ground, air and sea vessels in the military that have implications for commercial and consumer use. While the agency has become less of a player in the tech world than in its earlier days due to the advances made in Silicon Valley and how DARPA’s initial innovations were made available to so many companies, universities and organizations, the goal has always been to inspire broader growth and forward movement that has global value in addition to protecting the U.S. It is what makes this agency such a unique player on the government stage. Its organizational make up and work practices have prompted countless organizations to imitate them, because the amount of progress made within DARPA is unparalleled. It is a highly influential agency that is as creative as it is regimented. Remaining fluid and nimble is key to its continued success and as the world of the autonomous car becomes even bigger, DARPA will keep in step and, frequently, lead the way.

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The State of Driverless Cars: Baidu Brings Testing to Google Territory

Baidu, the "Google of China," joins the internet giant to test driverless cars in California

Baidu, the “Google of China”

Getting driverless cars ready for the road is happening so fast that tech companies are projecting more aggressive dates for production and implementation. On September 1, 2016, Baidu, considered the Google of China, became the newest pioneering voice to join the fray. The internet giant announced its plan to put an autonomous fleet of public shuttle vehicles on the roads by 2018. Driverless cars for personal use follow soon after. In preparation for these upcoming events, California DMV issued Baidu a license that allows them to test their automobiles on West Coast roads in the coming months.

Serious competitor in the driverless cars race

This comes on the heels of Baidu’s setting up a research and development facility in Sunnyvale, California in March, putting itself in direct competition with Google. Road tests around the Golden State facility are already in the works. These are a follow-up to the company’s highly successful trials across different terrains and environments throughout China with an autonomously-outfitted BMW in December 2015.

Establishing a mutually-beneficial partnership

Baidu is partnering with Santa Clara, California-based visual computing company NVIDIA to create the optimal driverless car. NVIDIA, a leader in virtual reality, computer graphics hardware and software, is primarily known for designing graphics processing units (GPU) for the gaming industry. GPUs are the brains behind what makes beautiful computer generated images come to life on a screen – in video games, feature films and more. This capability is also being tapped by the automotive industry to enhance the user experience and interface in connected and autonomous/self-driving vehicles.

Baidu is the creator of a state-of-the-art mapping program and cloud capability that is also integral to advancing the development and manufacturing of driverless cars. It has joined forces with NVIDIA to build a cloud-based autonomous vehicle platform that combines both of their strengths. The capability incorporates artificial intelligence into an automobile’s engine. This enables the vehicle to drive on a range of road types and handle unique scenarios, such as automated parking, that will define and test safety and efficiency.

Welcome bonus to local economy

This ramping up of autonomous vehicle research and development in California has resulted in increased need for local engineers, project managers and other positions to advance innovation. This is opening up new West Coast employment opportunities as Google and Baidu work fast and furiously toward getting their driverless cars on the road.

Apple is also working on automotive innovation that is bringing more jobs to the area. Whether it’s building the next electric vehicle or one that is self-driving is still just a rumor, but its efforts are bringing opportunities to the Golden State as well.

Could driverless cars be the next Silicon Valley?

Baidu is just one of the newest players in this mass exodus away from human to digital control behind the steering wheel. As California gains more traction as a strong testing and development arena for pioneering automotive technology, is it possible more companies will be attracted to the area to set up self-driving research and manufacturing facilities?

The Golden State is already established as a technology center and consistently leads the pack when it comes to vehicle innovations (setting emissions standards for the rest of the country, for example). Baidu’s expansion into California goes that much further towards validating its already solid position as a tech-savvy enclave. What that means for the future of the area as well as that of autonomous vehicles deserves watching.

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Traffic Congestion: 10 Paths to Global Relief

RushHourTrafficJam

Traffic congestion at rush hour

You get ready for the day, hop in your car and off you go onto the expressway, highway, freeway, street and…crawl. Stop. HONK! You get an overwhelming urge to weep, scream and/or jump out and start pummeling the cars around you (and if you do, who could blame you?), because today, as with every day, you’ve encountered traffic congestion.

Those two seemingly harmless words are no laughing matter. Traffic congestion has a grueling effect not just on your vehicle, but the environment and your physical and emotional well-being. Studies have shown that 60% of the world’s population will end up living in cities by 2030 and experts predict this will make cars more essential and gridlock more prevalent.

If our cities are only getting bigger – mega cities are already blowing up around the world – we need to embrace their size. Progress is inevitable, so how do we innovate road travel? And what is the role of government in this?

Innovating through technology and forward thinking

From mobile apps tracking and sharing real-time travel information to actual vehicles created to make life and your commute easier, several unique and thought-provoking solutions are being created to deal with traffic congestion today. Public officials and private companies are working both separately and together to prepare for the influx of larger populations and expanding transportation needs. It’s research that is necessary to ensure the best possible outcome for our global infrastructure.

Here are 10 ways private and public organizations are innovating to loosen up our gridlocked future.

1. Incorporate adaptive signal control technology

You’re in a left-hand turn lane that has its own turn signal, but you end up sitting through three cycles before you can move. Or you’re at an intersection waiting for the light to change for what seems forever and when it finally does, only four or five cars can get through before it turns red again. How did that happen?

In some smaller areas, intersections have sensors under the road that detect when a car pulls up. This signals the need for a light change. Larger cities may work on timers that are based on peak hours, not actual flow. While traffic patterns have changed over the years, these devices haven’t kept up, which has led to that red light/green light disparity.

Welcome to adaptive signal control technology (ASCT), the solution to poorly-timed traffic lights. This innovation adjusts the green, yellow, red light flow to actual driving conditions. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is fast at work to move it from test to implementation throughout the United States. This will bring about a radical and effective change in the fight against traffic congestion on a grand scale.

2. Promoting “smart” public and private partnerships

One of President Obama’s last acts in office was the 2015 allocation of $160 million to research and develop “smart cities.” Part of that is to reduce traffic congestion throughout the country and includes a collaboration between public officials, scientific minds and private companies. That money has been allocated across several programs meant to encourage effective incorporation of IT solutions to support better living conditions. These funds also help cities get in front of the inevitable population explosion that will create issues for their infrastructure.

3. Publicly challenging the norm

Getting an entire country to embrace such concepts as designated bus lanes, multimodal solutions, self-driving first/last mile shuttles and car-free zones is a monumental task. Both FHWA and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) know this and are working hard to move the U.S. to a better system before it’s too late.

FHWA has created several reports that highlight the effects of and suggested solutions to congestion. These are great resources for understanding the issue and how lawmakers can address the problem more effectively.

DOT recently took a more novel approach to encouraging and implementing traffic control. It created the Beyond Traffic Smart City Challenge. The contest encouraged cities to pitch ideas on how they would streamline and automate their local infrastructure to make travel easier, cleaner and more efficient. The prize was an up to $40 million pledge and was awarded to Columbus, Ohio in July 2016.

4. Engaging connected cars to battle traffic congestion

Automobiles are already being outfitted with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication technology. These connected cars will “speak” to each other as well as transfer information to and from various parts of a city’s transportation system for a smoother, safer drive.

With V2V, automobiles will be able to know just how far they are from another car and adjust automatically, without the driver’s having to do a thing. V2I could help synch traffic lights to create better flow and get roads to “tell” a vehicle when there’s danger up ahead (ice, potholes, etc.). The potential is huge and has automakers chomping at the bit to get legislation that will allow them to add this to all of their fleets. However, these technologies aren’t just something the car industry is pushing. Lawmakers all over the world are seeing the potential for a more sustainable, safer and well-traveled future with these systems in place.

The NHTSA submitted a report in June 2016 that outlines the need and makes suggestions for V2V, specifically, to be installed in all automobiles. While the focus is on highway safety, the benefits also include clearing up traffic congestion and emissions.

DOT is awarding various grants to cities willing to test pilot projects that incorporate both V2V and V2I technologies. Tampa, Florida was awarded $17 million from the department to create a smartphone app that would deliver traffic flow information. Upwards of $25 million has been granted to both New York City and the state of Wyoming to test V2I communication with some of their public vehicles.

Cars’ “talking” to each other and the road already exists in some models. However, broader expansion is on hold as government and the auto industry await legislation that will do two things:

  1. Support implementing more robust V2V and V2I technologies in general.
  2. Establish a relationship with the FCC to be included in its radio frequency requirements for more expansive and effective “car talk.”

5. Manage and promote carpools

High-occupancy Vehicle Lanes (HOV), also known as carpool or diamond lanes, exist all over the world and are nothing new. The first one was implemented in the United States in 1969 on the Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway in Northern Virginia in the stretch of road between Washington, D.C. and the Capital Beltway. It started as a bus-only lane and began including cars that carried four or more passengers in 1973.

Since that time, HOVs have been incorporated all over the country as a way to address gridlock. However, they’ve been managed with varying success. Actual carpooling is at an all-time low and it’s the goal of transportation departments around the world to encourage its expansion to combat traffic congestion and emission control.

Here are three things being done in the U.S. and abroad to accomplish this:

  • Rideshare incentive programs: From Southern California’s IE511.org to Oregon’s “Drive Less. Save More.” program, states around the nation are offering employers and employees incentives for carpooling, bike-sharing and even telecommuting to keep automobile use down.
  • Ride-hailing offering more true ride-sharing: Uber and Lyft are doing more to encourage genuine ride-sharing with their apps. They do this by offering lower rates to those who split their trip with 1 or more passengers.
  • Carpool app and option expansion: Smartphone applications and options for ridesharing are growing and becoming even more specific. For example, BlaBlaCar (blablacar.com) matches commuters in Europe, South America and Mexico. Carma Car (gocarma.com) is available in both the U.S. and abroad, and CarpooltoSchool is working with U.S. schools to overcome limited transportation problems and budget cuts to ensure successful student attendance.

All of these solutions are created either through initiatives supported by government, nonprofits or private enterprises to promote communal driving.

Changing the face of transport

Perhaps the biggest traffic congestion solution being promoted all over the world is a more efficient, accessible general system of transportation. Whether it’s grabbing a gondola in Venice, a ferry to take you across the Hudson in New York, sharing a bike in Paris or jumping onto the inexpensive, incredibly clean and uncrowded train in Seoul (considered one of the best in the world), dumping your car and going by alternative transport is becoming more prevalent in many cities. Taking these different modes of travel, however, isn’t always easy and the challenges are being addressed by both private companies and public officials.

6. One system to rule a multimodal world

various public transportation options to alleviate traffic conestion

A bus and streetcar wait at an intersection, showing multimodal potential

Multimodal is the ability to connect various types of public transport for easier access. This way of travel may be the best way to relieve traffic congestion if it can ever become more universal.

Like electronic toll collection (ETC), there is really no centralized pay system that gains you access to all of the different modes of municipal travel. For the most part, your bus pass won’t get you on the train or the subway or pay for the taxi or ride-hailing/sharing service to get you to and from the station. However, that is changing as countries around the world not only seek to promote less personal vehicle usage, but implement solutions. Japan, for example, offers both the prepaid Suica and Pasmo cards that allow limited multimodal travel and UK commuters can chose either the Oyster pass or Travelcard.

Other ideas in the works include involving cab and ride-hailing services for that First/Last Mile transfer as well as providing shuttles and upgrading the public transport experience to make it more appealing.

7. Renovating municipal travel

One of the issues surrounding public transport in many cities isn’t that commuters don’t want to take the bus, train, or trolley. It’s a variety of factors that include sharing the road with everyone else at peak hours, dirty vehicles, inconvenient schedules, stations located in unsafe areas, an inability to get to and from the transit stop to their ultimate destination and more. Lawmakers and private companies are hearing the complaints and while billions of dollars are being poured into a variety of programs to alleviate these issues, ridership is stalled in many cities.

Providing designated lanes for both bikes and buses has been proposed as a way to make these modes of travel more convenient and is seen as a better alternative. Implementing areas to shower, change, rest, eat and more are also being considered. It’s the goal to get people to take advantage of a system that already exists and that can curb gridlock and reduce air pollution. Thought leaders around the world are thinking up new ways to address this constantly, even in those cities that already top the “best of public transport” lists like New York, London, Paris and Seoul.

8. Crowdsourcing for real-time traffic updates

In the past, you could get traffic updates on the television or radio news during rush or peak hours. While this definitely was more helpful than taking off for your morning or afternoon drive without any information, it didn’t really prepare you for what might happen in real time, any time.

Enter crowdsourcing of traffic updates. This is all about the community’s sharing road conditions as it experiences them and wireless recognition through connected cars, digital infrastructure and more. The information is then loaded into a database made instantly available with just a touch of your finger on a smartphone screen.

Such apps as INRIX and WAZE are making driving smarter for motorists through this sharing. The data collected don’t just go out to motorists, but are also being communicated to transportation departments and media around the world. They provide updates on road conditions so issues can be fixed faster. Driver behavior is also delivered in an effort to rework the infrastructure to better support actual motorist reaction on the highway.

9. Unique traffic management

Some local governments have taken thought-provoking approaches to fixing traffic congestion in their areas. While they’ve been hit or miss, they are innovative and open the door to broader thinking. Here are three examples:

  • Driving by License Plate Numbers: In cities like Dubai and Bogota, the times and days certain cars are allowed to be on the road are based on the last few numbers of their license plates. Whether it’s odd day–ex. the 15th of the month and your license plate ends in 583–or a randomizing of the last few numbers on your tag that switches up annually, they are pushing toward fewer cars on the road and levying hefty fines on those who don’t follow the rules.
  • High-Priced Road to Purchase: Singapore charges hefty fees for car ownership in its quest to lower emissions and congestion. If you want to buy a vehicle, you have to first obtain a Certificate of Entitlement (COE). Purchasing is done via a bidding process that recently went as high as $57,000 local currency (more than $42,000 USD). This isn’t the cost to buy the car. It’s the cost to buy the permission to buy the car. It is a 10-year certificate that allows you to deregister the vehicle when it expires or to renew for another 10 years with another bid at that current rate.
  • Travel by Air: Several cities have begun to incorporate sky gondolas as a way of transporting their citizens through difficult-to-access areas and alleviate gridlock. Implementation has come at the hand of local officials in each of these areas and include the commuter cable cars of Metrocable in Medellin, Colombia, Mi Teleflorico in La Paz, Bolivia, and the Emirates airlines in London.

10. No cars allowed… PERIOD

car free zones are a thing of the past, present and future

Venice, Italy, one of the oldest car free zones in the world

Many cities have begun opting for car-free zones to battle traffic issues as well as pollution and noise. This is either implemented during certain times of the day or permanently. While this is nothing new – Venice, Italy has never allowed cars – it is something that is definitely spreading beyond quaint towns with narrow streets to urban centers choked with traffic. This is a municipal decision that local governments are enforcing and many citizens are embracing.

Pioneering transportation techniques is the key

vehicles traveling in the future

A futuristic view of transportation

Everyone – commuters, government, private companies, think tanks – is acutely aware of the issues facing our streets on a global scale. Transportation bills are addressing traffic congestion, even if they are not specifically calling them out. Getting lawmakers to move forward on auto legislation that markedly transforms everything from connected cars to eGovernment takes time, however, and ending that gridlock is vital to alleviating what we’re experiencing on the highway.

Technology and innovative thinking are believed to be the keys to beating the traffic problems the world is facing and will continue to battle as we grow. As thought leaders, legislators and private citizens consider our transportation future, investigating solutions that range from the simple to the sublime are creating a more streamlined, ecologically- and physically-friendly way to expand our cities.

 

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