Public transportation is great—if you have access to it. In many cities, the people who would benefit most from the public-transit improvements—people with lower incomes, minorities, residents with disabilities, the elderly—often have difficulty accessing it. Cities are now starting to think about how to help people with the first and last miles of their travels. Popular Science traveled to Columbus, Ohio (winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City challenge), to see how they’re breaking urban-planning barriers, fixing the “first mile/last mile” issue, and working together to develop an inclusive and expansive transit ecosystem.
THE FUTURES WE WERE PROMISED
The hyperloop’s ancestry starts in the 1870s. Cruise control debuted in the 1950s. The first air-car prototype took flight in the same decade. And in the ’60s, Bell Labs prototyped jet-powered backpacks. Jetpacks and flying cars might seem more at home parked in science-fiction novels and magazines (such as this one) than in your garage, however, these modes of transportation are still a part of today’s commuting conversations. This honest assessment examines how four futuristic and potentially realistic commuting methods are navigating technology, regulations, and expectations.
FOR THE LONG HAUL
In 2018 Qantas introduced the first nonstop link (a 17-hour flight!) between Europe and Australia. By 2022 they plan to schedule 22-hour flights. Extended flights like these are possible only because airplane makers have spent decades on innovations, including fuel-friendly wing shapes and stronger, lighter materials. But what about the humans onboard? What does the human body need to endure 22-hours in the air? What do customers need to be happy in a cramped, sterile cabin for nearly a full day? From wider seats to yoga studios, PopSci has your preview of what long haul flights look like.
WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR HUMANS TO TRUST SELF-DRIVING CARS?
A fatality caused by a self-driving car might not be more tragic than another, but it does encourage the wariness many of us feel about technology making life-and-death decisions. A 2018 survey by AAA revealed that 73 percent of Americans were too scared to zip around in a totally autonomous ride. But what makes some of us so distrustful of these robotic chauffeurs, how can they earn our trust, and what are these companies doing about it? Assistant Tech Editor Rob Verger explores this idea, writing, “Trust grows like a self-driving shuttle drives: slowly.”
PLUS The Return of Supersonic Air Travel; Sans This Bolt, We Can’t Get to Mars; Designing the Perfect Sailboat; the Carbon Cost of Travel, Represented by Trees; Why Car Trips Feel So Long, and More.