All posts in Transportation
State of Trains and Trust
High-speed rail plan for Pacific Northwest takes a step forward
Can You Wait for It?
The longest bridge in the world will be finished this year in Kuwait
More Than Meets the Eye
A Tesla struck and "killed" a robot at CES—or did it?
Or did it? The story seemed too good to be true, and touched a nerve over fears that autonomous vehicles could be dangerous (see the case of Uber’s Arizonan test car that got into a fatal crash last March). In the video, a Tesla Model S can be seen cruising by a robot standing curbside, at which point the Promobot falls over and its arm falls off. Promobot’s manufacturer, also called Promobot, posted footage of the incident to Twitter, tagged Elon Musk, and “Promobot was killed by a self-driving Tesla car” racked up over a million views. Promobot claims that its robot was damaged beyond repair and that they would be filing a police report. How did the robot manage to “run off” to the far side of the road without anyone noticing? How did Promobot seem to know that the Tesla was in self-driving mode? Why was the scene being filmed in the first place? The company has thus far been unable to provide answers, but tech writers and Twitter users were quick to point out the inconsistencies in Promobot’s story.
Look @elonmusk at a Tesla Model S hitting and killing a guiltless robot in Vegas. Your car was under a full self-driving mode. @bheater, @jjvincent, @ingridlunden, @andyjayhawk Check this out!https://t.co/0q605Fdknb— promobot (@promobot) January 7, 2019
Tesla’s cars, while equipped with an “Autopilot” mode that assists drivers on highways, lacks a fully-autonomous self-driving mode. When the driver, George Caldera, was asked for a comment by the Daily Mail, he allegedly told the British tabloid that he had shifted to the passenger seat and handed over control to the vehicle. “I switched this Tesla into a self-driving mode and it started to move. And wow! A robot on the track! I thought the flivver would come round, but it bumped straightly into it! I am so sorry, the robot looks cute. And my sincere apologies to the engineers.” Other than the strange quote, a rope can be seen on the far side of the road near the robot, and Promobot appears to fall over slightly before being passed by the car.
Here's the robot "saving" a child (complete with link to video licensing details) pic.twitter.com/oWUTKw1kbU— Olivia Solon (@oliviasolon) January 7, 2019
Robots and self-driving cars have captured the public’s imagination, but confusion over the capabilities of each have at times also served to confuse. For instance, the robots deployed to ward off homeless people in San Francisco and Waymo’s self-driving cars in Arizona, have both elicited visceral responses from the public. The integration of artificial intelligence into the urban fabric has a long and bumpy road ahead.
The rope is literally visible behind the trees. This is a terrible attempt at PR. pic.twitter.com/ITOKVTnxb7— ShayneRarma (@ShayneRarma) January 8, 2019
CRÈME proposes floating timber bridge to connect Brooklyn and Queens
Currently the only link between the rapidly developing neighborhoods of Long Island City, Queens, and Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is the Pulaski Bridge, a six-lane drawbridge with a narrow pathway where pedestrians and bikers jostle for space. Brooklyn-based CRÈME/Jun Aizaki Architecture & Design wants to change that by proposing the LongPoint Bridge, a 250-foot-long crossing dedicated to foot and bike traffic.
The bridge is distinguished from its counterparts across the city for its lightweight, floating timber construction. It is anchored on either end by a concrete and steel mast embedded into the waterbed of Newtown Creek (the East River canal that divides Queens and Brooklyn). Glulam beams joined by galvanized steel braces and pins rise in two trussed peaks of armature around the nearly 50-foot-tall masts. The structure is a nod to the area’s industrial past and present while also referencing the iconic profiles of other bridges in the city. Its height above the canal allows smaller vessels to pass underneath, but for larger boats, the bridge pivots open in the middle, with each section moving on propeller-driven pontoons. This floating feature also allows the bridge to rise and fall with the tides.
According to Jun Aizaki, the firm’s founder and principal, the bridge’s design and timber composition allows it to be assembled off-site and installed quickly and inexpensively; in the long term, it will require only minimal repairs. CRÈME also proposes public parks and loading docks to flank the bridge on both ends, along with a pedestrian crossing over the Long Island Railroad commuter rails just beyond the canal. Together with the timber bridge, the pathway would connect commuters to the G and 7 trains on either side.
With the impending L train shutdown in 2019 and the predicted growth of Long Island City as it hosts Amazon’s HQ2, the timing of a quickly constructed, relatively affordable bridge seems ideal. Aizaki and his team, which includes a community organizer, are busy raising support and funds through meetings with public officials and local community members. For Aizaki, the bridge is intended as “a grassroots, rather than developer-initiated, project,” which he hopes will “be a symbol of something the community can be proud of."
A More Perfect Union
Amtrak plans major update for Union Station in Washington, D.C.
Seattle set to finally close Alaskan Way Viaduct and open new tunnel
Governor Cuomo presents plan to prevent L train tunnel closure
If the L train repair plan proceeds as scheduled, one track at a time will be shut down on nights and weekends for up to 20 months. To offset the decrease in service, the MTA plans on increasing service on several other train lines, including the 7 and G.
MTA Acting Chairman Ferrer: "Why wasn't this approach considered earlier?" Because the process had never been applied to a rehabilitation project. In other words, the MTA is extremely unimaginative? Such a rehab project has never been needed afaik, period pic.twitter.com/XctpO6tLW9— Market Urbanism (@MarketUrbanism) January 3, 2019