America’s love affair with scooters lasted about a minute, if that. As companies like Lime, Skip and Bird roll out their pay-per-minute electric scooter rental programs, cities across the country are dealing with the fallout, and it’s not pretty.
In California, where electric scooters have become part of the high-tech industry’s impact on urban culture, the scooters are being vandalized and destroyed—and those doing the damage are bragging about it. On the most exhibitionistic corners of the Internet, scooter abuse is being documented and proudly displayed. The Instagram account Birdgraveyard, which has more than 24,000 followers, features images and films of scooters that have met their tragic demise by being burned, tossed into the sea, festooned with dog doody bags, and otherwise desecrated.
To the disappointment of “Back to the Future” fans everywhere, 2015 came and went with nary a flying car zooming across the sky. But perhaps Doc Brown and Marty McFly will only need to travel a handful of years later, into the future that is, if they want to see the first real flying cars.
Partnering with NASA, Uber unveiled last year a new venture called Uber Elevate, which will introduce a pay-as-you-go flying ride-sharing service to metropolitan skylines. The program initially planned to launch in Dubai and Dallas Fort Worth, but then last month Uber’s head of product Jeff Holden announced that the company is adding Los Angeles as one of its pilot cities. He hopes for the aerial taxi service to take off as early as 2020 - which is less than three years away.
Even in a world increasingly driven by technology, driverless cars sound futuristic and improbable—or, at the very least, miles away. Yet new developments from major automakers, rideshare services and city planners suggests that the driverless car era is nearly road-ready.
A NASA Space Act company called skyTran, based in California, is closer than ever to making an efficient, sustainable and safe form of transportation a reality. The company’s patented overhead transportation system uses maglev (magnetic levitation) technology to transport passenger “cars” while emitting virtually no pollution. The computer-controlled, two-person vehicles run on a lightweight, steel and aluminum track built 20-30 feet above the ground. The 18-inch support poles, tracks, and vehicles ideal to hold solar panels, which could provide almost all of the energy needed in operating the system.
Among the many alarming effects of climate change, one receives far less attention than it deserves: its economic effect on the working poor.
Most discussions of climate change acknowledge its disproportionate effect on poor communities in developing countries, primarily due to the risk of famine, displacement and disease from rising sea levels, and increases in the severity and frequency of storms or droughts. But our planet's changing climate is also proving treacherous to the working poor in industrialized nations.