TransAlt’s Reclaim magazine just published a piece called “All Hail the Robot Car?”, subtitled “toward a better debate about autonomous vehicles” in my physical copy. I was excited because TransAlt has taken several optimistic stances toward new ideas, such as e-scooters and parking permits. Unfortunately, the article is terrible, and it’s not the author’s fault (I actually have much respect for them and their work fighting for safe streets). While the online version cites many sources, including academic journals, this piece serves to show just how hard it is to bypass the fluff in self-driving car reporting, and unfortunately adds to the pile of misleading and inaccurate reporting around what could be the biggest movement back to urbanism since, well, the automobile destroyed it.
I’ve been meaning to write this ever since Cruise announced plans for testing in Manhattan. Then I started to write it after Uber’s fatal crash. This week seems like a perfect time to actually finish it, since TransAlt’s Reclaim magazine and The War on Cars podcast are talking about the subject, and Waymo is reported to launch their driverless service by end of year.