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Computers Behind The Wheel: The Promises And Perils Of Autonomous Vehicles

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A Waymo autonomous car driving in California

What would you do with all that time if you didn't have to drive during your daily commute?

This hour: like it or not, autonomous vehicles (AVs) will be a major part of our not-too-distant transportation future. We take a look at some of the promises and challenges of automating vehicles and ask what they will mean for the cities of our future.

We find out what researchers in the UK are learning about the safety implications of having humans watching over mostly self-sufficient cars.  And we hear about the AV pilot programs already underway on the streets of Boston.

Do you want to see AVs on the streets of Connecticut?

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Molly Turner - Co-host of the Technopolis podcast for Citylab; she is an urban planner and teaches at the Berkeley Haas School of Business (@mollysturner)
  • Neville Stanton - Professor of human factors in transport at the University of Southampton (UK) (@nevilleastanton)
  • Carol Atkinson-Palombo - Associate Professor of Geography and Co-director of the Transportation, Technology, and Society program at UConn
  • Kris Carter - City of Boston co-Chair, Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics (@Kris_W_Carter)


Citylab:  Sex, Vomit, and Criminalized Pedestrians: Is This the Future of Self-Driving Cars? (Molly Turner and Jim Kapsis, March 2019) – “Will our driverless future be a utopia or a dystopia? That depends in part on a lot of decisions that are still up for grabs. Join us on Episode 2 to talk about the questions we need to be asking.”

PopSci: People are bad at taking over from autonomous cars(January 2017) - “Humans trust robots with their lives, and they probably shouldn’t. A new study… shows that people aren’t great at taking control back from autonomous vehicles, or handing off the control if need be. Autopilot for cars promises to save lives, but those promises will mean little if they can’t account for human error from the start.”

Boston.com: If self-driving cars want to transform cities, they’ll have to figure out Boston first (September 2019) – “Kris Carter, the co-chairman of the mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, which oversees the city’s autonomous vehicle program, said that the ‘unique challenges’ of Boston’s roads, weather, and fellow drivers ‘are exactly the kind of things that [the companies] feel like they need to solve for this to be an actual transformative piece of technology.’”

Chion Wolf contributed to this show.

Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.
Carmen Baskauf was a producer for Connecticut Public Radio's news-talk show Where We Live, hosted by Lucy Nalpathanchil from 2017-2021. She has also contributed to The Colin McEnroe Show.

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