Yeah, WIRED Transportation loves new car tech. But this week, we were all about alternatives to driving around on four wheels. We thought about what might make public transit more comfortable for more than half of the population—you know, women. We pondered the feasibility of self-riding bikes and scooters. (Uber is really working on them!) We wondered what might happen to the nation’s aviation system now that the federal government is open again—and came away depressed. And we took a close look at Amazon’s delivery robots. Why leave your house at all?
It’s been a week—let’s get you caught up.
Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week
- A new analysis estimates American cities will only be able to keep up with electric vehicle charging demand if they have to build 20 percent more chargers— every year between now and 2025.
- Self-riding bikes and scooters sort of make sense, business-wise, but Uber’s new robotics team will have a hard time building them.
- Women said they avoided a new LA Metro light rail line because they were worried about safety.
- Amazon will start testing adorable delivery robots in Washington State. But the retail giant will have plenty of technical and regulatory issues to iron out.
- Digital license plates are now allowed in more states than ever. Will car drivers ever really want them?
- Boeing engineers in Virginia got an electric “flying taxi”—OK, a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft—to hover in the air for less than a minute and land without incident. It doesn’t sound that cool, but the demo could be the Kitty Hawk moment for the flying car sector.
- The “multicultural toilet,” a number two solution to aviation’s number one problem.
- The federal government shutdown may be over for now, but the aviation sector may feel its effects for months—maybe years.
Out-of-Left-Field Hero of the Week
When was the last time New York’s LaGuardia Airport did something nice for you? The airport, which is consistently ranked among the worst in the country and was famously likened by former Vice President Joe Biden to a “third world country”, may have played an instrumental role in the conclusion of the nation’s longer federal shutdown. On Friday, the airport had to halt all traffic due to “staffing issues” at a nearby air traffic control center. Just hours later, President Donald Trump said he and congressional leaders had reached an agreement to open the government for three weeks . Thanks, LaGuardia? (Also, the air traffic controllers.)
Stat of the Week
According to a new study by UCLA medical researchers , nearly a third of the 249 electric-scooter-related injuries that brought people to two LA-area hospitals in between September 2017 and September 2018 were fractures—mostly arm, shoulder, and leg fractures. Other top injuries included head injuries (40.2 percent) and contusions and sprains (26.9 percent). Five patients were admitted to emergency hospitals with intracranial hemorrhaging.
News from elsewhere on the internet
- Apple lays off 200 workers from its ultra-secretive autonomous vehicle group, Project Titan.
- A passenger on Waymo One, Waymo’s “self-driving” car service in Arizona, gets real about the program’s limitations . (Reminder: There’s still a safety driver behind the wheel of these Waymo vehicles.)
- Business Insider reports California regulators fined Tesla almost $30,000 over safety issues related to a production tent in its Fremont factory.
- Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn steps down from his role , two months after his arrest by Japanese authorities for alleged financial crimes.
- Uber’s new rewards program is bad for traffic .
In the Rearview
Essential stories from WIRED’s canon
From last year: Why use a car when you can ride a bike at 184 mph?
It’s been a week: Let’s get you caught up.HeadlinesStories you might have missed from WIRED this weekWe still don’t know whether the Tesla Model S stopped last month by some quick-thinking cops as its driver snoozed in the front seat was on Autopilot, the electric carmaker’s semi-autonomous highway driving feature.