Articles about technology and the future of transportation rarely used to get far without mentioning jet-packs: a staple of science fiction from the 1920s onwards, the jet pack became a reality in the 1960s in the shape of devices such as the Bell Rocket Belt. But despite many similar efforts, the skies over our cities remain stubbornly free of jet-pack-toting commuters.
This ebook, based on the latest ZDNet / TechRepublic special feature, examines how driverless cars, trucks, semis, delivery vehicles, drones, and other UAVs are poised to unleash a new level of automation in the enterprise. Few technologies have been more anticipated heading into the 2020s than autonomous vehicles. Tantalizingly close and yet still perhaps decades from market adoption in some use cases, the technology is as promising as it is misunderstood. You've heard the consumer hype, but what gets less ink are the transformative changes that autonomous vehicles will bring -- in some cases already are bringing -- to the enterprise. Affecting sectors as disparate as shipping and logistics, energy, agriculture, transportation, construction, and infrastructure -- to name just a few -- it's hard to overstate the impact of the diverse and versatile set of technologies lumped into the decidedly broad category of'autonomous vehicles'. This guide will help you sort the hype from the business reality and tell you all you need to know about the autonomous vehicle revolution on the ground, in the air, and even at sea. In 1939, General Motors predicted we'd have an autonomous vehicle highway system up and running by the dawn of the 1960s. As with a lot of autonomous vehicle hype, that prediction was a tad premature, but it demonstrates the long history of autonomous vehicle development.
In the latest example, in Catalonia, Spain, an autonomous bus called Èrica is being tested around the region to help citizens become familiar with what driverless technology entails. These bus experiments are also designed to allow local-government officials to adapt to this new means of transportation, which they expect to be fully functioning by 2020. Equipped with eight sensors, the red and yellow self-driving shuttle unveiled by the Association of Municipalities for Mobility and Urban Transport, AMTU, is 100 percent electrically powered with 14 hours of autonomous driving. Looking like a rectangular minivan, Èrica can transport up to 11 passengers and an attendant, who is there to help and advise travelers and deal with emergencies. Some 4,600 citizens from Sant Cugat, Terrassa, and Sabadell, all cities close to Barcelona, already took the new bus in September.
While other countries are discussing the rules and regulations surrounding autonomous vehicles, the emirate of Dubai is simply powering ahead with them. In 2016, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, announced plans for a quarter of all journeys in Dubai to be driverless by 2030. He described the move as part of a "globally unique model for future cities… turning [Dubai] into the world's biggest laboratory for technology, research and development". "Smart transportation is intended to be one of the main axes in the achievement of a sustainable economy in the UAE," he said. Since then, Middle East unicorn Careem, a car-booking app that operates in more than 120 cities across 15 countries, has collaborated with Californian-based NEXT Future Transportation to develop driverless electric pods.