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A Waymo self-driving car on the road in Mountain View. Photo credit: Grendelkhan.

Is driverless technology ready for the roads? 11 MIN, 24 SEC

Imagine driving your car and you look over at the car next to you -- and there’s no driver at the wheel! It sounds like science fiction, but this is already becoming a reality. This week the California Department of Motor Vehicles can begin issuing driverless testing and deployment permits for autonomous vehicle manufacturers. One manufacturer already decided not to apply for this permit: Uber. The company is still investigating last month’s fatal crash in Tempe, Arizona involving a self-driving car.

DnA spoke to Grayson Brulte, who advises the city of Beverly Hills about autonomous vehicles, about what the Wright Brothers and the music industry can teach us about innovation and adaptation, why truck drivers will benefit from autonomy, and why “we're on the cusp of one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of society.”

Grayson Brulte, an autonomous vehicle consultant in Beverly Hills, says “autonomy will change every single aspect of the economy.” Photo credit: Avishay Artsy.

John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog is far less enthusiastic, telling us that “the push for complete autonomy may be misguided and selected applications might make more sense.”

Meanwhile Matt Petersen, head of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, is concerned about autonomy’s role in creating a cleaner, more sustainable future, saying it has to go hand in hand with electrification, as well as meeting safety needs.

And Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says the city is preparing for a self-driving future, telling DnA, “it's a real exciting opportunity, but we have to do it right.”

Grayson Brulte, President of consulting firm Brulte & Company, and Co-Chair of the City of Beverly Hills Mayors Autonomous Vehicle Task Force (@gbrulte)
John Simpson, Consumer advocate for Consumer Watchdog and director of the organization’s Privacy Project (@Jomasimp)
Matt Petersen, City of Los Angeles (@mattspete)
Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles (@MayorOfLA)

California Welcomes Zero Unmanned Self-Driving Cars After Only One Company Applies for Permit
A death in Tempe and the promise of self-driving cars

LA gets its first-ever chief design officer 17 MIN, 2 SEC

Longtime Los Angeles Times architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne has left the paper to take a new position, at the invitation of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, of Chief Design Officer for the city.

In his last column for the Times, he wrote about his aspirations for this position, emphasizing a “a clear central focus: the public realm,” as well as initiatives such as supporting young talent through design competitions, enabling better quality of housing and amplifying the design presented to us by the 2028 Olympics. He starts this job on April 16.

DnA spoke to Garcetti and Hawthorne about these goals — and the practicalities of achieving them in a city of complex politics.

The top of LA City Hall.

Christopher Hawthorne, Chief design officer for LA City Hall; Los Angeles Times (@hawthorneLAT)
Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles (@MayorOfLA)

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