Robot, You Can Drive My Car

Episode two of PopSci's Futuropolis podcast talks roadtrips and traffic jams

The Urbmobile

From the 1967 PopSci archives

In the second episode of Futuropolis, the podcast that explores what everyday life will be like in the future, we’re tackling your daily commute. Sitting in traffic doesn’t have to be stressful and frustrating. In the future, you may be able to lean back and relax while your car watches the road for you.

We’ve been promised autonomous cars for what seems like forever—and our archives have proof. In 1961, we predicted that cars would be directed by a punched tape so you could sleep behind the wheel. And in 1967, we anticipated you could twirl a dial on a car’s dashboard, set it to your destination, and then sit back to read the morning paper on the way to work.

But maybe this time it’s for real. To find out, we talked to Missy Cummings, the director of Duke’s Humans and Autonomy Lab; Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at South Carolina University who specializes in self-driving vehicles; and futurist Glen Hiemstra. And while we may not be quite ready to hand over the reins—er, steering wheel—we’d gladly take the opportunity to nap, read a book, or even get in a workout while the car drives itself.

What would you do while your car does the driving? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook, or email us at futuropolis@popsci.com. And be sure to subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud, or search for Futuropolis on your favorite podcast app.

Futuropolis is a biweekly podcast on the Panoply network. Tune in every other Wednesday for more sneak peeks at the future.