AUTONOMOUS CARS: THE FUTURE OF TRANSPORT

AUTONOMOUS CARS: THE FUTURE OF TRANSPORT

Many of us constantly wonder about the future of humanity. What will it look like? How will it work? Although we always hope to fill these questions with more fiction than reality, the truth is that science and technology is catching up with the futuristic, dystopian life we once imagined.

Thus, we are currently encountering projects such as this one: a fully autonomous taxi.

 

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO CARS?

Let’s talk about cars and how the youth, the future society of tomorrow, perceives them. What once seemed like the greatest achievement of a financially independent individual, today seems more of a vanity than a necessity.

According to a 2019 report by AECOC (Asociación de Empresas de Fabricantes y Distribuidores), 64% of digital natives say they do not want or need a car of their own xnxx. Their preferences lean towards smarter and more technological means of transport, especially when it comes to apps.

This visualisation of tomorrow’s needs coexists with the emergence and rise of electric cars, which now have a structure and functions that are perfectly adapted to this new transport model offered by autonomous taxis.

 

ROBOTIC TAXI?

Imagine this. You are a busy professional, and your job is worth a lot of money. You get paid by the hour, and today you have to travel to a place about an hour and a half away. What if you could use all that time to make money? Or entertain yourself? Or create something new? Autonomous taxi projects are designed for people like this.

Designed for big cities, they are the high stakes of urban transport engineers, who are looking to free capitals and metropolises from the crushing traffic of everyday life. Not to mention the environmental pollution that mass automobiles consume.

Zoox Inc, a company owned by Amazon, is working on a proposal. Its team managed to design a robotic prototype, capable of travelling at 120 km/h without a driver. Zoox, as it was named, is a fully autonomous machine that can guarantee efficient, two-way driving. This allows it to manoeuvre on winding and challenging city roads without the need to reverse.

ROBOTIC TAXI?

With the slogan ‘built for riders, not drivers’, the company designed its design with a 100% dedicated focus on passengers: their comfort, safety and convenience. It also proposes a safe and friendly system for the environment and other passers-by (by car or on foot) on public roads.

It is proposed as a small machine, which will be able to transport up to 4 people in a spacious cabin, which will have large and comfortable seats, points for recharging mobile phones and, in addition, a system that gives the user the possibility of monitoring their journey in real time, making very precise calculations of the time of arrival at the agreed point, based on speed and trajectory of movement. Less importantly, you could even define the music you listen to along the way.

Like Zoox Inc. there are already a number of companies around the world that are part of this innovation race. In the UK, the ‘New Car for London’ project also already has a similar prototype.

We suppose, then, that it is only a matter of time before we see it implemented in the big cities of the first world. Do you think that this alternative is an opportunity to improve the way public transport currently works?

 

NOTICE IN VIDEO

 

Related Post:

Consequences of Urbanization

Consequences of Urbanization

The promise of employment opportunities, prosperity, and better life, among other factors, lures many to relocate to towns and cities. Today, half of the world’s population lives in urban regions, with expectations that the statistics will rise to two-thirds by 2050. Urbanization comes with its consequences.

 

 

Urbanization has positive effects

1. Positive Consequences

Urbanization has positive effects, especially when urban regions develop within appropriate limits. Some of the positive effects of urbanization include jobs opportunities and advancements in technology and infrastructure. Other positive aspects of urbanization include improved medical amenities, transportation, communication, education, and better living standards. However, poorly managed urbanization often leads to adverse effects, as listed below.

 

2. Housing Shortage

Urbanization attracts many people to towns and cities. The rise in the population of city dwellers often leads to a scarcity of houses in urban centers. Housing problems occur due to insufficient land space for building houses and public utilities, unemployment, and poverty porno français. Another contributing factor is the high cost of construction materials afforded by a few.

 

3. Development of Slums

The high cost of living in towns and cities, random and unexpected growth, and unemployment leads to the development of unlawful settlements characterized by slums and squatters. Rapid industrialization, an influx of rural immigrants to the urban centers, lack of land for housing, and high cost of land beyond afford by the urban poor further fuel the growth of slums.

 

4. Water and Sanitation Challenges

Water and Sanitation Challenges

Overpopulation and rapid population growth in urban centers often lead to inadequate sewage amenities. Local governments and municipalities often experience serious resource crises in the running of sewerage services. Consequently, there is poor sanitation and chaotic sewage flow that often drains into nearby water sources like streams, rivers, and other water bodies. Slums often experience water scarcity, as the supply cannot meet the water demands of the rising population.

 

5. Poor Health and Diseases

The social, economic, and dwelling conditions characteristic of urban areas affect access and use of public health care services. Shantytowns, in particular, experience inadequate water supply and poor sanitation, which puts slum dwellers at risk of communicable diseases. Environmental problems like pollution lead to health issues like allergies, food, asthma, infertility, cancer, and premature mortalities.

 

6. Unemployment

The problem of unemployment is highest in urban settlements, particularly among educated people. Estimates show that over half of unemployed youth across the world live in metropolitan cities. While the income in cities is high, the high cost of living makes the wages seem extremely low. The constant migration of persons from rural to urban areas is a key factor in urban unemployment.

 

7. Urban Crime

Unemployment, poverty, overcrowding, and lack of resources, education, and social services contribute to various social problems like drug abuse, violence, and other crimes. Urban areas and their vicinities often report a high number of crimes like theft, burglary, assault, kidnapping, murder, and hijacking. Poverty-related crimes are common in rapid-growing urban areas.

 

8. Overcrowding

Overcrowding

Overcrowding occurs when a large number of people thrive in a small space. Congestion is typical in urban centers due to overpopulation. The problem increases by the day as more immigrants move to towns and cities in pursuit of a better life.

 

9. Traffic Congestion

The relocation of more people to urban regions often poses a challenge to the transport system. More people lead to more number of automobiles, which translates to traffic congestion as well as vehicular pollution. Many people in the cities drive to work, and this leads to traffic snarls, particularly during rush hours.

 

10. Food Challenges

Population movement piles pressure on the supply and distribution of food. City dwellers purchase instead of growing their crops, and this often leads to fluctuations in food prices. Furthermore, rising populations increase the demand for land and water, causing difficulties in sustainable food production. The growth of urban regions coupled with diminishing agricultural land exerts more pressure on rural inhabitants to produce more food for the growing urban population.

 

 

 

Artificial Intelligence: How It Works and What It Is Used For

Artificial Intelligence: How It Works and What It Is Used For

Artificial intelligence is a broad branch of computer science and engineering concerned with developing computers and machines capable of performing tasks that require human intelligence. It entails the development of systems that can simulate human intellectual processes like the capacity to reason, discern meaning, generalize, and learn from experiences. Today, humans program computers to perform very complex tasks (like playing chess) efficiently.

 

How Artificial Intelligence Works

Artificial intelligence works on the principle that researchers and engineers can define human intelligence so that computer systems can easily mimic and perform tasks – ranging from simple to more complex. AI systems depend on specialized hardware and software for coding and implementing machine learning algorithms. AI systems work by taking in large amounts of training data and analyzing the data to draw patterns and correlations. The system then uses the patterns to predict future states or rationalize and perform actions that are likely to attain a specific goal porno français

Part of the aim of artificial intelligence is to mimic human cognitive activities. Researchers and engineers are making surprisingly rapid achievements in AI representation of cognitive activities like learning, perception, and reasoning. AI is constantly progressing to support many different industries.

 

Applications of Artificial Intelligence

There are endless applications of AI. The technology is widely used in various sectors and industries. Here are a few examples.

How Artificial Intelligence Works

Healthcare

The goal of AI in healthcare is to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs by making beter and quicker diagnoses than humans. They are also used for dosing patients’ medication and treatments and surgical procedures in operating theatres. Some healthcare centers deploy AI as online virtual health assistants or chatbots to aid patients and healthcare clients in scheduling appointments, getting medical information, and performing other administrative tasks.

Bank fraud departments use AI to avert financial fraud. The systems can detect and flag suspicious activities in the banking and finance sectors. For example, the system can flag unusual large account deposits and credit card usage. AI is also streamlining and making trading easier by making it easier to estimate the supply, demand, and pricing of securities.

 

Agriculture

AI is being used in agriculture to detect defects and the soil’s nutrient deficiencies. It accomplishes this by using robotics, computer vision, and machine learning applications. The AI system can also analyze the farm areas affected by weed growth. Additionally, AI machines can aid in harvesting crops at a higher pace and volume than human laborers.

 

Automobile Industry

AI is the factor that is enabling self-driving vehicles. For these cars, the computer uses external data from the vehicle’s camera, cloud services, GPS, radar, and control signals to operate the vehicle and prevent collisions and accidents. Furthermore, AI can enhance the in-vehicle experience and offer additional emergency braking, driver-assistant steering, and blind-spot monitoring systems.

 

Financial Industry

 

Marketing

AI can analyze behavior, recognize patterns, and help marketers deliver targeted and personalized adverts. It can also help retarget the right audiences at the right time to enhance results and minimize feelings of annoyance and distrust. Additionally, AI can handle routine tasks like campaign reports, performance, etc.

 

 

 

The Revolution in The Use of Technologies in Transport

The Revolution in The Use of Technologies in Transport

Transport is critical for the survival of businesses and interactions – it connects people and companies, thus enabling the economy to thrive. Transport services like aviation, railway, and road transport are increasing by the day to help support the growing demand from consumers. Consequently, there is a swelling need to drive growth, reduce costs, and improve the quality of services. Using key technologies could help solve these needs. 

 

How Technology Has Revolutionized the Transport Sector

The transportation sector is amidst a revolution. Here are the key technologies that are changing the industry by storm porno

 

Autonomous Vehicles 

The Revolution in The Use of Technologies in Transport

A few decades ago, autonomous cars seemed only like a dream. However, with the introduction of self-driving cars by Tesla and Google, the idea becomes a reality. Several states have started passing laws to regulate technology and encourage its development. However, the acceptance and safety of these vehicles have been spiked public interest. There was a series of car accidents in the summer of 2016, which further increased the debate regarding the safety of autonomous vehicles. 

With continuous research and development, autonomous cars are likely to be a safe alternative to human drivers in the future. The technology also comes with economic and environmental benefits. Excluding human control from vehicles will go a long way in ensuring cars attain their designed fuel economy, resulting in lower gas consumption and decreased cost of car ownership. 

 

The Internet Of Things 

The internet of things works under the philosophy that all items and people can be interconnected through networks. The linkage of networks may potentially influence several aspects of driving:

Route planning – Vehicle sensors send messages to the GPS device to determine the best route. The result is then displayed for the driver to follow the recommended course easily. 

Safety – A series of sensors in the seat belt could be used to track the driver’s physiological elements and gauge whether they are intoxicated or fatigued. If the driver doesn’t pass the tests performed by these sensors, the car shuts down and becomes inoperable. 

Accident prevention – Sensors are used to alert the drivers about the position of other cars on the road to avert collisions. The cars can even take over the driver controls. 

 

On-Demand Cab Services

When Uber, Lyft, and other cab services came into the scene, they changed the mode of transportation for people in large cities. Riders could use the apps to summon a vehicle to their pick-up point at their desired time and location. The services have helped decrease DUI rates in many cities and, to an extent, reduce the profits of cab companies. 

Unfortunately, innovation has had its disadvantages. For instance, the drivers are considered contract earners and not employees, which is a considerable concern for the government. It leaves the drivers with a huge tax burden but only a few benefits. On the other hand, the drivers enjoy greater flexibility and more customers. 

 

Lightweight Car Materials

Automobile manufacturers have been forced to deliver high-performance cars with outstanding efficiency. Research shows that reducing the vehicle’s weight by as little as 10% can increase the fuel efficiency by 6%. So, if only 25% of cars used lighter-weight materials, the country could consume five billion gallons of gas fewer every year. 

The focus of lightweight materials research is eradicating steel and cast iron. Magnesium-aluminum alloys and carbon fibers are the leading candidates in the new models. The only concern is to ensure that the new materials can hold up the pressure of highway accidents and be cost-effective. 

 

Fashion rants

Am I a flamingo or am I a woman? Hmm, let me think about that for a moment… oh I know! I am a woman: an adult whose legs support her body and get her from A to B.

Now since I walk around on my legs they have muscles. They are not vastly overdeveloped, bulging out so that passers-by have to give me extra room on the pavement, but they do enable my getting-around. I am not a Barbie doll or a supermodel, whose legs wouldn’t support a sparrow never mind a fully-grown adult. And neither, obviously, am I a skinny 12 year old girl. Now I have nothing against teenage girls, having been one myself, but the world is NOT full of them, or supermodels. And birds, to my certain knowledge, do not buy boots.
So why oh why oh why oh why are boots made for people with legs the width of a matchstick?
And why oh f**king WHY do sales assistants make you feel like some kind of Elephant-Woman- Freak-Calves Lady when the zip will only go half way up?
Sure, they will hoist your leg up onto their thigh and squeeze you in there but legs need blood flow or they will eventually drop off and then your too-tight new boots will have been a waste of money anyway.
All I want is a pair of boots that neither cut off my circulation or flop about like a pair of fisherman’s waders. Can that be too much to ask??
What is this ugly piece of jewelry I keep seeing people wearing? It is worn choker-style, a piece of wire or thread, with feathers or little rows of beads hanging down.
It looks like nothing more than a novelty beard, the sort you hook behind your ears to frighten toddlers or avoid that bothersome ex-boyfriend. The thing being, these strange necklaces are the novelty beard that slipped – which is why I think of them as neck-beards.
A ‘stylist’ (I use the term loosely as she didn’t seem to have any relation to style) in the recent BBC2 series ‘Would Like to Meet’ drew my attention to these bizarre accessories as she persisted in wearing one for several weeks running. Then, because I knew about them, I started noticing them on women in the street. I want to run up to them and shout ‘stop! don’t wear that neck beard!’ But of course I don’t. Their bad taste is their own youporn business.
Neck beards don’t seem to serve much of a purpose: they are not attractive and they even look cheap so no-one is going to envy either your taste or your consumer-power. We can all thank our stars it is the season for diamantes and pearls. Put down that neck beard and embrace your shiny things instead.

Artificial Intelligence

World’s first autonomous fish
A new, completely artificial specie can now be spotted in London Aquarium. A fish shaped robot, mimicking the undulating movements of a real fish navigates itself autonomously around the tank. It was designed by Professor Huosheng Hu, of Essex University and will find applications as a new type of underwater vehicle that could be used to measure sea pollution or counter mines.

October 18, 2005 Posted by guhru

Driving with no hands!
A team from Stanford University has claimed the price of $2 million as their unmanned Volkswagen Touareq crossed the finish line after 132 mile race over Mojave Desert, sponsored by DARPA. Another two vehicles, from Carnegie Mellon University and Metairie, Louisiana made it to the end which makes them more lucky than remaining 18 vehicles which failed due to mechanical or sensor failures. Let me remind, that the last year’s race ended for all of the cars in just couple of minutes, all suffering technical glitches.

ABrain
September 02, 2005 Posted by bea_jo

Dr. Juan Liu, as well as Michal Joachimczak and Beata Grzyb — the GABRI Steering Committee members currently working at the ATR, Kyoto — completed their move to a special qViki-dedicated room kindly offered by ATR’s Authorities. The qViki is a semi-physical semi-simulated robotic system employing several psychodynamic concepts developed in the framework of the ATR ABrain Project. Several stations interconnected into a local network hosts qViki’s brain developed and run under BrainCAD. The qViki Lab faces the beautiful ATR garden including a small woodland with a hidden pond.

July 21, 2005 Posted by bea_jo

From Interaction to Cognition
Self-development of motor abilities resulting from the growth of a neural network reinforced by pleasure and tensions was the title of the paper by Juan Liu and Andrzej Buller that was presented by its first author at the poster session of the 2005 IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning From Interaction to Cognition (ICDL-05) held on July 19-21 in Osaka, Japan and published as the Conference Proceedings CD-ROM.

GABRI
September 22, 2005 Posted by bea_jo

Smart Neural Driver Demo under the BrainCAD
SND is a demo of simple reinforcement learning algorithm allowing the robot to learn wall avoidance behavior, previously written by Michal Joachimczak, and now adopted to the BrainCAD. Downloadable archive contains a short description of algorithm, as well as instructions how to run it. You may also need to download BrainCad to use it.

August 31, 2005 Posted by bea_jo

GABRI Neural Model in ICNN&B-05; Proceedings
According to e-mail from the chairs of the International Conference On Neural Networks & Brain (ICNN&B-05;) to be held in Beijing on October 13-15, the paper entitled “Firing Cell: An Artificial Neuron with Long-Term Synaptic Potentiation Sex Video Capacity” by Jacek Bialowas, Beata Grzyb, and Pawel Poszumski has been accepted for inclusion in the conference proceedings.

April 20, 2005 Posted by ab

Pseudoscience industry
As Boston Herald reports, three students of MIT CS & AI Lab wrote a program that “deliberately churned out nonsensical scientific gibberish”. One of fake reports produced by the program has been successfully accepted by a Florida conference. Indeed, a number of conferences is supposedly being organized only to pull money from folks and institutions who for any price want to enhance their “publication records”.

The Olympic Challenge

With Olympics on the horizon, the world turns its attention to the U.S. as the 2002 Winter Games begin in Salt Lake City. For the following two weeks the world’s greatest amateur athletes will compete for gold and the glory of their respective countries.

Though the competition is always fierce, this year’s event is especially symbolic as the world recovers from the recent terrorist attacks. In the wake of such tragic events, the Olympic spirit of unity and goodwill is more evident than ever. As the host country, the U.S. expects this ‘spirit’ to transcend September 11 and promote a more profound commitment to cooperation and world peace.

Perhaps the best illustration of integration and unity can be found within the U.S. Olympic team itself. In several events some of America’s brightest stars are immigrants who left their native countries behind to fulfill their Olympic dream in the U.S. As immigrants these athletes are proud to represent America, along with the opportunity to act as ambassadors of freedom and international cooperation. With national pride currently on the rise, these Olympic hopefuls offer Americans another reason to rally together.

Ice Dancing

With Olympics on the horizon, the world turns its attention to the U.S. as the 2002 Winter Games begin in Salt Lake City. For the following two weeks the world’s greatest amateur athletes will compete for gold and the glory of their respective countries.

Peter Tchernyshev

One of America’s top medal contenders is ice dancer Peter Tchernyshev. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, he began skating at the age of six after his grandfather introduced him to the sport.

At first, he was a singles competitor until an ankle injury led him to pursue the discipline of ice dancing. Originally he represented the Soviet Union before moving to the U.S. to compete for three years. With great sacrifice he left behind his family, friends and homeland and came to the U.S. permanently in 1992 with his former wife, ice dancer Natalia Annenko.

In 1996, after separating from his previous skating partner, Tchernyshev met Naomi Lang and the two instantly clicked. Since that time, the pair has repeatedly won the U.S. Ice Dancing Championships and was ranked as high as 8th in the world.

In order to compete for the U.S. in the upcoming Olympics, Tchernyshev made the decision to become a U.S. citizen on Jan. 29, 2001. He says he never intended or wished to become an American citizen when he was younger. But he says that after skating and living in the United States, he started feeling like an American. “I didn’t become a citizen just to represent the country as a skater,” he says. “I wanted to become a rightful member of the country.”

 

Figure Skating

Another immigrant athlete eager to represent the U.S. this year is pairs figure skater Kyoko Ina. Born in Tokyo, Ina comes from a family with a proud tradition of Japanese Olympians.

Although she grew up in New York, she continued to compete for Japan. As a young teenager, Ina had won nearly every junior event possible and was ranked 8th in the world. She promised to be one of Japan’s newest stars, and many hoped she would carry on the Olympic tradition in her family. She would carry on that tradition; only she would be an American. At age 16, tired of the constant travel, Ina made a crucial decision and change nationalities.

No longer caught in the middle of two identities, Ina is skating is better than ever. After four years of training, she and partner John Zimmerman, look to add their names to the list of Olympic champions, and to honor their country by bringing home the gold.

Downhill Skiing

A notable competitor in the downhill event is Jakub Fiala. He was born in Prague, and came to the U.S. when his family defected in 1978. He grew up in New Mexico with his father, who worked as a part-time ski instructor. With little money, Fiala’s father used black tennis balls as gates for training. By age 17, he was living alone in Breckenridge and skiing for the local team.

When denied a scholarship from a local university, he decided to train harder than ever. Three years later, in 1996, Fiala was offered a position on the U.S. Olympic squad. Since that time, he has competed in nearly two-dozen events, gradually improving his standings enough to qualify for this year’s winter games.

One of Fiala’s greatest idols has been American Bill Johnson, who won a gold medal in 1984. From his first Olympic memories of Sarajevo, to his chance to compete in Salt Lake, this young man from Prague has come a long way to realize his Olympic dreams.

Conclusion

The 2002 U.S. Olympic team is comprised of several immigrant athletes who have endured many hardships and difficulties to represent America. Despite various backgrounds and cultural differences, these competitors come together in a common goal – to bring glory to their country by spreading noticias independientes.

My most recent investigation works

My research area is Carbon Dioxide Capture. The thesis work involved the study CO2 absorption into aqueous monoethanolamine solutions. The main goal of the work was to study the effect of solvent concentration on the overall mass transfer coefficient. The effect of other operating parameters, such as the liquid flow rate, gas flow rate, packing type, CO2 feed percent, and liquid CO2 loading were also evaluated.

Experimental Phase

Counter-current flowing absorption experiments were conducted in one of three packed absorption columns. The CO2 concentration in the gas phase along the column was measured using an IR CO2 gas analyzer under steady-state conditions. The MEA solutions were prepared to the desired concentration and tested for the CO2 loading at both the inlet and outlet of the absorption column. Temperatures along the column was also measured using an on-line thermocouple system.

Analysis

The collected data was used to calculate the overall mass transfer coefficient in the absorption column for the various conditions that were tested.

The findings have been published in various sources identified in the Publications page.

PhD THESIS WORK (Current Project)

My current thesis project is to study the absorption of CO2 from flue gases using gas absorption membranes as the contacting medium. Results will be compared to those obtained using the more traditional packed column approach for absorption. The work will test a variety of membrane materials for their performance as a membrane gas/liquid contactor. As well, the addition of surfactants to the solvent solution will be studied in an effort reduce the tendency to which alkanolamine solutions wet polymer membranes.

Experimental Phase

Experimental equipment is currently being built in the Engineering Workshop. The plant should be up and running in early 2002. The system will consist of two absorption columns, packed with structured packing, and a membrane gas absorber.

Analysis

Analysis of the collected experimental data will focus on comparing the mass transfer coefficient between the membrane absorber and the traditional absorption columns. As well, the effect of surfactants will be studied to determine if they can be used to reduce wetting.

For more details about this project, e-mail me at [email protected]

You may also want to visit my research team web site at…

The Search for Sustainability : the Straw Bale Revolution

In 1985 I did some consulting work on energy efficiency in housing for pigs (they are as sensitive as we are and get irritable if they are hot or cold). I ran across a couple of articles on straw bale buildings, which my former boss Jon Hammond had been advocating in the 1970s. I had recently learned about the problem of rice straw disposal and this time around it made sense. I wrote the first of many articles on straw bale buildings in 1985 and it was published in 1986 in the international journal Agriculture, Ecosystems, Environment. I also began talking about straw bale buildings and writing articles at every opportunity. I thought it might take 25 years to jump-start the straw bale revolution, but it took less than 10. The permaculture movement played a critical role in the early years as integrated ecological design was just common sense to these film porno pioneers.

In 1989 we held the first straw bale building workshop in Oracle, AZ (not far from the multi-hundred million dollar folly Biosphere II). I wrote the first crude book in 1991 with the help of Bill and Athena Steen and an improved version in 1992 all on newsprint to keep the cost low. Steve MacDonald, Matts Myhrman and Judy Knox were also on the straw bale trail in Arizona and New Mexico and after Matts visited the historic straw bale buildings of Nebraska we all were energized. In 1992 Matts and Judy launched The Last Straw – the journal of straw bale construction, which was their labor of love for many years and has played a pivotal role in the revolution. They also began teaching outstanding workshops around the country. By 1994 when Chelsea Green published our book “The Straw Bale House”, with the added insight of David Eisenberg, the worldwide movement was increasing. This book has now sold almost 100,000 copies and helped people around the world discover the beauty and elegance of straw bale building. David Eisenberg has almost single-handedly taken on the Herculean task of bringing sustainability and alternative building materials into the international building codes. Today there are building codes for straw bale buildings in many cities, states and countries; and there are now 8 major books or publications on straw bale building and a number of good videos. A 1500 square meter straw bale building was recently completed in Australia, and a 1600 square meter winery is under construction near Healdsburg, California. High-rises will follow.

By 1995 I was partly burned out from work on straw bale and had assumed a new position teaching at United States International University (now Alliant International University) where developing a curriculum and program in environmental studies based on problem solving required 70-90 hours week after week. My role in straw bale diminished, but I remain active as time allows. Students at USIU (now AIU) built a straw bale amphitheater and several have worked on straw bale projects.

From rural systems to today’s suburbs: an historical perspective

The built environment we inhabit today would be unrecognizable to someone living 100 years ago, yet the forces that shape it are a living legacy of well over a century of planning theories, transportation technology, and politics. What has remained constant through history is the link between transportation and land use: The form of towns and cities is affected by the forms of transportation made available. Conversely, the modes of transportation people choose to use are affected by the way their towns and cities are planned.

The Rural System
In the early 19th, America was a rural nation. Most people lived on farms, and transported their produce by horse and cart to the nearest town to sell it. Roads were little more than dirt tracks, and so the limited amount of freight that moved between towns and cities went by waterways. Even the largest cities of the day, which grew up at major sea or river ports, were small enough that their residents could walk anywhere they needed to go. Early American towns required little in the way of planing beyond laying out streets, and a simple grid pattern was found to be satisfactory for all but a few cities.

The Urban System
Starting in the 1830’s, America began to develop into an urban nation. By the end of the 19th century, most of the population had migrated to densely developed industrial towns and cities. All development followed the lines of steam railroads or electric trolleys, and passengers could move from anywhere to almost anywhere else on these. Horse-drawn vehicles were still used for short hauls, but almost all long-distance freight went by rail. Trucks had not yet been developed, and roads were in the same sorry state they had been in a century ago.

In the “laissez-faire” spirit of the time, the railroads and trolley lines were built wherever their owners saw an opportunity for profit, and the towns that grew around them were planned in much the same way they were a hundred years earlier, which led to problems. Firstly, the railroad companies held an enormous amount of power, and were extremely corrupt. Secondly, the industrial cities were overcrowded and polluted, and the working class mostly lived in unsanitary slums.

There were a number of reactions to these problems. Railroad and factory workers formed labor unions, which became very powerful. Cities began to put more thought into planning parks, civic centers and transportation systems, and great strides were made in sanitation. Farmers campaigned for better roads and the regulation of railroads, demands which were met by a government which had grown to distrust the railroads.
Can anyone tell me in which year this photograph was taken, and which avenue is depicted?

The Suburban System
When cars and trucks became cheap and reliable after the first world war, they made cities cleaner and more efficient by eliminating horse-drawn traffic. However, their numbers soon increased to a level that made cities even more congested, and middle class people started moving to less-densely developed areas that were accessible primarily by car: the first suburbs. They were sold by a number of factors:

– Early efforts at city planning had done little to make cities less polluted or overcrowded.
– Labor unions pushed costs up for railroads and trolleys, but the automobile industry had not yet unionized.
– Government regulation of railroads diminished their ability to compete with cars and trucks.
– Roads were provided to the public free of charge, whereas trains and trolleys had to pay for their rights-of-way.
Railroads and trolley lines modernized their operations to try and compete, but still lost business because of the factors working against them. During the depression, many lines closed down altogether. It didn’t help that many unemployed people were riding freight trains for free, or that the New Deal involved the construction of numerous highways.
The Second World war was a blessing for the railroads, because they were put to use transporting troops and munitions, and civilian car use was restricted, but their fortunes were soon to turn sour. After the Second World War, the American economy and boomed. There was a huge backlog in construction, as very little had been built during the depression and war years. In addition to the factors that were present before the war, a number of other factors contributed to the suburban form which this new development took:

– Government agencies financed mortgages on new homes, but only those constructed in new suburbs.
– Zoning was used as a tool to restrict new suburbs to middle-class residents.
– Many of the new suburbs incorporated themselves as separate municipalities, resulting in lower taxes for suburbs, and inferior public services for urban areas.
– A wartime tax on passenger train fares was not repealed until 1962.
– Railroads were losing money, and eliminated passenger trains wherever possible so they could concentrate on more profitable freight trains.
– Trolley lines converted to buses, a move which saved money but lost passengers.
– Urban renewal, the government’s solution to urban problems, was based on faulty planning principles, and made cities even worse places to live.
– A great deal of government money was spent on multi-lane highways, including the Interstates. These not only took passengers away from transit, but opened up land for suburban development outside cities, and destroyed urban neighbourhoods through which they passed. Much of this spending was the result of vigorous lobbying on behalf of automobile and oil companies.

The new suburbs were developed at a much lower density than before, were inaccessible without a car, and included shopping centers and schools as well as houses.
Meanwhile, the mechanization of cotton picking made millions of southern blacks unemployed, and many moved to cities where manufacturing jobs were plentiful. The two migrations kept the population of cities stable, at least for the time being.

Urban Decay
Cities suffered greatly during this time. Most began to take on the form of a downtown containing mostly offices and parking, and neighborhoods containing mostly factories and their poorly paid black workforce. The shrinking tax base in cities led to a level of public services such as education and policing far inferior to that in the suburbs. Even small towns decayed into ghost towns as their main streets lost businesses to suburban shopping centers.
The loss of manufacturing jobs in the 70’s and 80’s hit cities hardest. People who had moved from the South only a few years earlier found themselves out of work again, but this time had nowhere to go. Those that could moved to the suburbs where work was plentiful, but many more became trapped in the vicious circle of lack of education, unemployment, and poverty. Cities lost a great deal of population, as much as half in the case of Detroit, leaving their neighborhoods looking like bomb sites.
By the late 60’s, transit had almost disappeared, and it was clear that it would disappear altogether unless it was subsidized like cars were. Transit operations were taken over by public corporations, with limited amounts of funding. These funds were increased during the oil crises of the 70’s, and cities such as Washington and San Francisco constructed rapid transit systems. Even inter-city rail services got a last minute reprieve when Amtrak was formed in 1971. The decline in transit use was temporarily halted, but began again during the Reagan years, when federal funds for transit were drastically cut. Transit funding increased again in the nineties, and numerous cities build light rail and commuter rail systems, sparking a small renaissance in downtown development.

Today’s Suburbs
Regardless of the ups and downs of transit funding, the lion’s share of transportation money has gone to highways. As a result car use continues to increase, and most development is still suburban in nature, although after 1970, suburbs began to take different forms. Now that suburbs include office buildings, sports venues and museums, they can exist independently of central cities. A general dissatisfaction with the physical appearance of suburbs led to the complex maze of regulations that shape toady’s suburbs. Gridded street layouts were abandoned in favor of sinuous networks of culs-de-sac. Zoning laws were extended to address not only lot sizes and permissible uses, but also parking requirements, buffer zones, façade treatments, and billboards. While it could be argued that these regulations have made today’s suburbs more beautiful than those of forty years ago, their primary effect has been to foster car dependency, increase development costs, and make it illegal to build anything remotely walkable.

The Road Ahead
The urban system was created by market forces, with almost no government involvement, but there were many problems with this system. The reactions to these problems, by governments, industry, institutions and individuals, resulted in the gradual replacement of the urban system with the suburban system. While many of the problems of the urban system have been solved, others have taken their place. The solutions to these lie in creating a new system, one that combines traditional walkable urban forms with modern transit technology, and balances market forces with responsible government.