The Rise of Self-Driving Cars

World's first fully self-driving ride on public roads: Steve Mahan and Nathaniel Fairfield (Principal Engineer). Courtesy:

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About This Episode

Neil deGrasse Tyson finally gets to investigate a topic he’s long wanted to cover on StarTalk Radio: self-driving cars. Neil and comic co-host Chuck Nice are joined on their journey by Larry Burns, Mobility Consultant for Google Inc. and former VP of R&D at GM, and transportation journalist Alex Davies. Ride along as they discuss the fast-rising world of self-driving cars and the future of transportation. You’ll hear about a new “car DNA” that will change our basic understanding of automobile functionality. Explore why autonomous transportation will reshape the basic way we move around and the economic implications involved in a complete industry overhaul. Discover more about the history of auto-making, and why traveling by horse was made obsolete within two decades. Our crew discusses the legal ramifications for accidents involving driverless cars, the accident involving the Tesla autopilot system, and why they believe self-driving car manufacturers will use past mistakes to make for a better, safer future. You’ll learn the reasons behind traffic congestion, why lane changing in traffic is ineffective, and what happens to traffic in a world of autonomous vehicles. Apart from autonomous cars, you’ll find out about autonomous delivery systems like drones and robots, and you’ll also find out why Neil has an irrational dislike towards drones. All that, plus, Neil ponders why flying cars have yet to come to fruition and Alex explains Uber’s plans to finally make them a reality.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: The Rise of Self-Driving Cars

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  • carrie Fellows

    With all the laser science affecting the planet ,entertainment lasers, crowd monitoring , military science-energy-war-satellites… How do these cars stay safe? Just as human brains and bodies are affected, would the cars electronics be?

  • carrie Fellows

    we are a grid.
    Tesla, to my little understanding was mis-used. It’s original format was meant to be in individual locations to secure the wholeness.

  • carrie Fellows

    With Particle Science as in satellite- Laser- Beam -science;
    Space Debris Fall-out…affecting our earth..
    How does”matter gets its’ energy from Aether”?

  • Andy Pook

    I’ve been struggling more and more to listen to this show.
    The actual content is usually excellent. It’s the side chat that is “difficult”.

    In this show you put emphasis on center folds at the beginning. Why not just reference the car mag center fold? Why the explicit emphasis on adult magazines and the female form? Then later with drones delivering clothes to women asking “can I watch while you change”?
    I thought you’d be better than to use this kind of casual sexism.

    Talking about bombing shopping malls?!?!

    You started talking rubber necking and how it backs up traffic. You could have made a strong social ethics point but no, let’s create a rubber necking mode so that you can get a better look at someone struggling for their life!

    Less disturbing but irritating non the less is your urge to shout over the top of your guests. Generally as they are trying to answer your question and share their knowledge (which is the point, right?) you will shout them down to either extend your own opinion or to make some inane joke.
    I understand the need to make the show fun and to have a laugh. It could otherwise become quite dry. But, please, let your guests speak. It’s one of the big reasons your show is so attractive.

    Obviously just my opinion and I can easily just stop listening. But you frequently have interesting and insightful perspectives. However your guests have interesting things to say too and you can make it fun without the disturbing side chat.

    • Aaron

      Go home, you’re drunk.

      • Andy Pook

        Thank you for that thoughtful response. I must be over sensitive to casual sexism and making jokes about bombing and road death. If you can help me understand how this show is not any of those things then I would be grateful

        • Aaron

          Lay off the sauce.

    • Sheldon Blubaugh

      Or you could just lighten up and not be such an old man. And everyone says our generation gets offended.

  • Eduardo Scricco

    I wrote a little story inspired by this episode…

  • Inspiration

    Elon Musk’s 30-40 layer of tunnels under a big city is sure sound out of this world. Go study what Tokyo is doing. you don’t need 30-40 layers of tunnels under NY to fix your traffic problem. Greater Tokyo Metropolitan area got +30 millions in there. No traffic-jam and subway doesn’t smell like urine.

  • Fabrício Stahelin

    I don’t know why, but when I hear Chuck Nice talking about Blueapron comes to my mind GTA Vice City and Fernando Martines on the radio.

    • Fabricio, thanks for the comment. We edited out the link, because it’s not active in the US – and we didn’t want to have to reply to lots of people explaining that yes, we knew the link was dead in the US.

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