FROM Ashley Z. Hand
Can Gita, the cargo-carrying robot, make you walk more? A prototype of Gita and Jeremy, a resident of the Crenshaw district of Los Angles Photo by Frances Anderton Would you walk with your belongings in a ball rolling along behind you? Maybe, if it looks like Gita . Gita is a kind of robotic suitcase on wheels. It’s being prototyped by Piaggio Fast Forward, a subdivision of Piaggio, the Italian company that dates back to 1884 -- and brought us the Vespa scooter. Piaggio Fast Forward was founded to focus on fresh ideas for lightweight mobility. And its first big idea is an autonomous container on wheels that follows its owner. The concept is to get people walking to the store or the farmers market instead of making these kinds of short trips in a car. "We don't want to have a world like WALL-E where everybody's fat and lethargic and everything just comes to them the minute they think about it," says PFF chief creative officer Greg Lynn. "We would much rather have a city that's smart and intelligent with autonomy like this but that really puts people and their experience and lifestyle in the center of it." DnA talks to Lynn, PFF COO Sasha Hoffman and some teenagers who tested Gita. Gita will be featured among other alternatives to the private automobile, on show this weekend at the LA CoMotion Mobility Festival taking place in downtown’s Arts District. Also on display will be SWITCH!, a Gensler-designed prototype of climbable streetlight-come-benches that are part of LADOT's "playstreets" initiative; the Transdev autonomous shuttle, as well as electric scooters, cutting-edge bicycles and other innovations that might hit our streets in the near future. Festival senior advisor Ashley Z. Hand says the expo is taking place in the midst of a period of great change in transportation because "right now we have to set a vision for the future that we want because if we don't there's a real possibility things could go horribly wrong if we don't think about designing towards that future that we want."
Los Angeles has become the Detroit of electric buses There's a highly-charged competition going on in Los Angeles right now. And it's between manufacturers of electric buses. Transit agencies around the country are going electric. And here in LA, Metro has a goal of converting its bus fleet to 100 percent electric by 2030. The agency says it will spend around a hundred million dollars a year in contracts. A Foothill Transit electric bus under repair at Proterra's facility in City of Industry Photo by Avishay Artsy So under our noses a new industry is growing. There are at least ten companies in the Southland that are making and selling battery electric buses. The biggest is the Chinese-owned company BYD, which has a factory in Lancaster, employing over 500 people. There's Ebus in Downey. Proterra, in City of Industry, likens itself to the Tesla of electric buses. But is it possible the capital of car culture is advancing the art of the humble bus -- even as Metro currently grapples with a fall in bus ridership? Paul Mottram, plant manager, and T.J. Nass, customer program manager at Proterra in City of Industry Photo by Avishay Artsy
How do Trump supporters feel about the Paris Accord? Globally and around the U.S., there are strong opinions whether or not the Paris Climate Accord is a good idea. The American exit is either a horrifying abdication of American leadership or a forceful and long overdue statement about U.S. sovereignty.
Why is Trump so behind on filling staff jobs, establishing concrete policies? Yesterday Donald Trump signed a “decision memo” to revamp the air traffic control system. But there was little legislative detail in the plan. There’s not much to other splashy announcements from the White House, including tax cuts and the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. And hundreds of positions are unfilled in federal agencies.
Previewing James Comey's blockbuster testimony Former FBI director James Comey testifies Thursday in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but his opening statement has been released. In it, he says he felt pressured by Donald Trump to declare loyalty to him and publicly clear him of any wrongdoing in the Russia investigation.
Industry insights and lessons learned from memorable guests We have interesting guests on The Business, and sometimes our conversations are too long to fit into one show. This week we give you stories that were too good to leave on the cutting room floor, including some sharp insights on making it in the industry from David Mandel, David Simon, Shawn Levy and Matt Reeves.