The New York Times recently covered a story about Internet company Google testing autonomous cars that have been driving themselves around San Francisco. These test cars, comprised of seven Toyota Prius’ and an Audi TT, have all equipped with sensors that attach to the roof and wheels and allow the cars to drive unaided by humans, though there are humans in the car during the test for legal and safety reasons. The article focuses on the technology aspects mostly, how the car works and where it traversed. It was a great article and it’s a really amazing concept. Then I came across this idea from Nathan Williams, a designer who works over at Wolff Olins, who tweeted:
Google’s mission = ‘organise the worlds info’… if you think about it, drone cars make perfect sense. Bots collecting data. Simple.
And suddenly it became clear what Google could be working toward.
Imagine you make a technology that allows cars all over the world to be driven autonomously. There are a huge number of benefits to people and society at large. Less accidents, more freedom to interact with people in the car or just so you can text or watch a movie. But what does Google gain from this? Well, you have to input an address into the system so the car can drive you to your location. It can tell which grocery store you shop at, which gym you visit, what kind of school your kids go to. It knows what time of day you’re travelling, if you make a morning and evening commute or if you zip around town at all times of the day. What would Google do with this information? They’d sell ads based around the data. It’s your real life and your digital life merging together.
I’m not trying to sound Orwell-ian here, though the idea can sound a bit scary. There are a lot of devices that capture your real life and combine it with your digital presence, think Last.fm or Foursqaure. But this would be one of the largest companies in the world who already knows so much about you getting even more information getting even more precise data. I came across this article by IDEO though titled Why Would You Trade Away Your Online Privacy? which spoke exactly about the tradeoffs of privacy. It’s a great read and it honestly answers a lot of concerns one might have against losing privacy… you know, so long as Google doesn’t turn evil.
Update: The Associated Press has their own take on it but seems to think the cars would have cameras attached, taking photos along your route to flesh out Google Maps. While it’s an interesting idea I think it misses the real point which is tracking behavior in the real world.
About getting from Point A to Point B, Colin Hesterly describes his video as “an exploration in nostalgia[;] a tribute to man’s various achievements in transportation and technology.” And there’s a rocket! If you like the video check out some of Colin’s other work here.
As I was riding my bike home last week I started noticing these extremely well designed posters popping up with the phrase “Give Me 3″ in support of giving bike riders at least 3 feet of space on the road. I immediately thought, “Wow! Those look like something Geoff McFetridge would do.” And sure enough, Geoff McFetridge definitely did design it. The Give Me 3 campaign was created in partnership by the LACBC, Midnight Ridazz, LADOT, and LAPD as a way to increase bike safety in the city. I think the image is totally fun and it’s nice to be riding with these giant posters along side me as a constant reminder.
I’d say for the most part my experience biking to work has been really easy, so far. I haven’t had any big problems and for the most part people are quite conscious of where I’m at. These posters are going to be posted up until December and hopefully they stay up for quite a while.
The video above is one of the most well produced shorts I think I’ve ever seen. Shinya Kimura is a guy who builds motor cycles, plain and simple. But these are no ordinary bikes, they’re like works of art made of chrome and steel that go really, really fast. I love that he finds a peace and tranquility in his work, that the speed makes him feel like he’s one with the earth and the sky. I’m even a bit jealous, that he’s found such love and devotion in his work. I think I feel that way about designing but it seems almost spiritual to him. The video itself is masterfully edited: the sound, the cuts, the coloring… everything is so perfect.
Stebs Schinerer is at it again, filming himself out in the elements do tricks while making a totally beautiful video in the process. You might remember his last video where he filmed himself riding in the snow and now he’s out after a fresh rain riding through puddles and jumping off all kinds of things. I don’t claim to know anything about bike stuff or doing tricks, but I definitely enjoy watching it when it’s presented like this. Nice works Stebs.
It’s been quite a while since I posted anything car related but this new taxi concept called the Milano by Volkswagen certainly grabbed my attention. While I was in New York it was so nice riding everywhere in cabs. They were clean (mostly), quick and it was sooo easy to pay, just swipe your card and you’re good to go. Here in Los Angeles cabs are antiquated, try paying with a credit card and you’ll get sass from the grizzled driver. That’s why this concept is so appealing to me, it’s a perfect people mover.
First off it’s electric, which means it can go 186 miles between charges and go a maximum of 74 MPH. It’s also got only two seats for passengers and the trunk has been moved to the front, passenger seat for easy access to your luggage. It’s also got a little touchscreen which not only allows you to pay for your ride but you can also “call up information (in various languages) about “points of interest” (POIs) along the route, navigation data (route overview, remaining route and arrival time), weather data and the current date and time.”
I thought it would be nice to transition from bikes to videos with this great piece from the folks over at California is a place. If you’re not familiar with CIAP they make videos all about my lovely home state California and all the amazing things that happen here. For this video they travelled to Oakland to document the Original Scraper Bike Team, which is a group of kids who trick out their bikes by painting them or adding colorful tape to the spokes and the riding them around Oakland.
The Team is run by Baby Champ who gets the kids to come together and give them some focus an get them away from the bad stuff that goes down in Oakland. I’m also impressed that Baybe Champ is only 20 years old yet he has a clear vision of wanting to help other people. In the video he talks about having a dream of his own bike shop where kids can come out and customize their bikes, use Apple computers and have a positive place to be, all in East Oakland. I think it would be amazing if the right person watched this and help make his dream come true. His cause seems so worthwhile and all he needs is someone or something to come by and help him achieve so much more.
The video itself is so well done like all CIAP’s videos are. It totally hit all my emotions, showing how much fun these kids are having but kind of how serious and important Scraper Bikes are to these kids. This one is a much watch.
While imagining the Saturn V rocket in unfamiliar settings, this delightful video explains crop circles, how to fuel billion-dollar rockets and solitary drive-in experiences of inanimate objects. Fun fact: before the Atlantis Space Shuttle was employed and recently retired, disposable rockets shot things into outer space. I say disposable because they were only used once, and most of the rocket’s stages either burned in the atmosphere or became space junk. The Saturn V rockets carried the first Americans into lunar orbit, the first men to the moon and was utilized in Apollo 17: the last of the Apollo missions.