Progress—a blog about design, tech, and people.


Self-Driving Cities


Self-Driving Cars are Elevators–what do they enable?

I've been thinking about this question for a few years. Now, my patience has worn off, and I've decided to take it on as a personal project—if you're interested please get in touch or follow along. 

If you’re into tech or transportation, self-driving cars are exciting, highly rewarding, technical challenges. If you’re not, they are elevators. You get in, push a button, and after some time, arrive at your destination. Elevators once had operators who would control the speed, direction, and stop at floors people requested, then they became autonomous. Initially, people were cautious, until they pushed the button and the elevator forever lost their interest. 

The thing is the elevator is one of the most transformative technologies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, enabling the cities of that era, most notably exemplified by New York. Self-driving cars are elevators—elevators that move not just vertically, but also horizontally. What self-driving cars will enable is much more exciting than AI replacing Lyft drivers or lift operators. They too will transform cities – the cities of the 21st and 22nd centuries. 

These AI enabled cities will need to tackle urban sprawl, urban density, and extreme environments as we become a multi-planetary species. To do this, they will become dynamic. Transportation will get huge, as the lines between building and vehicle blur. Commuting will be a relic of the past, the spaces that you use will pick you up. These cities will be like the nomadic communities of the past, never permanent, always transforming, and self-governing. My goal with this personal project will be to envision, test, and prototype the experience of such a city. Stay tuned, more coming very soon.

Koraldo Kajanaku