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
Why did Jared Kushner want a back channel with Russians? News broke Friday that President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, tried setting up a back channel between the Trump transition team and the Russian government. What are the consequences for Kushner, President Trump, and the investigation into Russian meddling?
George Saunders: Lincoln in the Bardo (Part I) Lincoln in the Bardo dramatizes a grieving President Lincoln as he visits the grave of his beloved son Willie, who died at age eleven. In the novel, the buried dead believe they're not dead -- "they're sick and refer to their coffins as "sick boxes."
Trump says goodbye Paris Accord: What does it mean for U.S. and the planet? President Donald Trump announced Thursday that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, the landmark international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Trump was to renegotiate a new deal, but will that happen?
Farewell LA freeways, Peter Shire is back Angelenos don't want more freeways but we seem not to want mass transit either. Metro has killed the 710 freeway extension, and bus and train ridership is down across the region. What's the future of getting around in LA? And, Peter Shire is having a comeback. What attracts a new generation to his playful ceramics and furniture?