You may have already seen a driverless car—and not even known it

Sometimes, when people think about “driverless car” technology, they imagine the futuristic, Jetsons-esque vehicles that will fill our roadways — and airways — decades from now. What many of us don’t realize is that driverless cars, or autonomous vehicles (AVs), are already here. And you’ve probably already seen them in action. Here are some of the technologies that you may have already seen on your streets.

These taxi services for individuals (autovot) or multiple passengers (taxibot) are designed to transport people wherever they need to go. There are already pilot projects underway in San Francisco and Singapore, among other cities.

Driverless Shuttle
These automated minibuses typically take 10–12 passengers along pre-mapped routes. There are currently four pilot projects, including in Lyons, France; Helsinki, Finland; and Washington, D.C.

This AV technology doesn’t aim to move people. Rather, these small carts are designed to deliver goods (like takeout meals) short distances. You can already see deliverybots in Tallinn, Estonia; London; Redwood City, Calif.; and Washington, D.C.

Software Train
The name “software train” is a little misleading — this form of AV technology can be thought of as automated tractor-trailers that move alone or in platoons with other long-haul AV freight transport vehicles. A software train can move up to 44,000 pounds of cargo. Already there are 18 pilot sites around the world, so you might have seen these on the roads in Colorado and throughout Europe, including near Rotterdam, Netherlands.

These projects are the just the start. So wherever you are, stay tuned — experts predict a full swing to AV technology by 2030.

You can learn more about the AV revolution, and the significant impact it will have on our world, in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ and the Aspen Institute’s Taming the Automatous Vehicle: A Primer for Cities.

Celebrating public sector progress and innovation in cities around the world. Run by @BloombergDotOrg’s Government Innovation program.

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