Could self-driving cars ever really replace human drivers? How will they interact with other traffic? Who would be liable in the event of an accident?
As self-driving cars accelerate towards reality, we explore some of the key questions surrounding the future of automated transport. We find out that city-dwellers could soon be transported around the streets in automated pods, whereas those that live in the country will depend more and more on their car to perform routine tasks such as parking and cruising on the motorway.
We talk to the researchers who are designing ways for automated cars to talk to each other so they can switch lanes, cross junctions and organise into platoons without the help of humans.
We also explore how the EU is teaming up with the US and Japan to share ideas and make self-driving cars a global reality, and how one of the next big challenges is to come up with a set of rules and regulations before self-driving systems can be introduced.
Driverless cars may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but according to Dr Jean-Luc Di Paola-Galloni, co-chairman of the European Road Transport Advisory Council (ERTRAC), they could be on our roads in just four years’ time, and so the EU needs to regulate that.
People in cities will shift from using private transport to using self-driving public taxis, as fleets of shared, low-speed electric cars are introduced over the next decade, according to European researchers working on the future of automated transport.
More than 30% of car journeys in Europe are under 3km long and could potentially be swapped for different, greener, forms of transport. In February, we look at alternative ways of getting people and goods around cities - a challenge known in the industry as the problem of the ‘last mile’. We speak to Karen Vancluysen of cities network POLIS, who says that cities may have to introduce some unpopular measures to change the way people move around, and we look at how soon commuters will be able to rely on automated shuttles to ferry them from door to door. We delve into the environmental problems caused by unsuccessful home deliveries and what can be done about them, and the new technologies that could change the way goods are delivered.
In January, we examine how the cryosphere - ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice and other frozen parts of the planet - is changing and what this means for our planet. Earth’s cryosphere reflects the sun’s heat, regulating climate. But as the cryosphere melts, sea levels are rising and there are other impacts too – such as glacier collapse, which can generate massive avalanches. We speak to glacier expert Professor Andreas Kääb about the current state of the planet’s ice and snow and how better satellite measurements can help us understand the impacts of melting. We look at Earth’s so-called 'third pole’ of the Tibetan plateau and how ice melt will affect the millions who live in the mountains and those who depend on its run-off for water. We look at a project drilling in the Antarctic for what could be the world’s oldest ice (1.5 million years old) to see what it can reveal about climate history. And we speak to sea ice scientist Polona Itkin to get a glimpse into a day in her life aboard German icebreaker Polarstern, currently carrying out the largest Arctic expedition in history.
Salmon farmers battling large numbers of parasites that flourish on fish farms are seeking – and finding – new ways to cut their losses and protect marine wildlife.
Delivering online shopping to people’s homes is a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly when deliveries fail and the journey needs to be repeated. Researchers are now re-thinking home deliveries to see if there is a better way of doing things, with ideas including robot couriers, jointly owned parcel lockers and an ‘Uber’ for parcels.
The number of parasites is increasing with rising sea temperatures.
Alternatives include robotic couriers and an ‘Uber’ for parcels.
Prof. J Murray Roberts is carrying out a health check on the Atlantic.