Watch most science fiction films dating back decades and you’ll see self-driving cars whizzing people around futuristing metropolises (metropoli?). It’s the stuff of stories, right? Wrong. The future is now at the ambitious Masdar City development near Abu Dhabi, UAE, where prototype autonomous people movers, designed by famous Italian design house Zagato, are already in limited operation.
These pictures and the video below come to us from crankandpiston reader Farhan Al Bastaki, who works with Zagato and had a chance to try out the new pods. Over to Farhan.
“Approaching the car station, you can see on a greeting screen what cars are available to leave, and in which parking slot to find them, and also how far away the approaching cars are. Getting into the car, the only control mechanism you find is a screen on which you pick your destination, and the car just takes you there.
“Initially I thought the car would move on predefined railways, but I was surprised and amazed to find out that it is a true car moving on four rubber tyres and it moves on normal ground. It has been preprogrammed to know where the drivable routes are and where it should not go, and it knows its way to the desired destinations.
“As it was my first experience in such an intelligent car, I was a bit concerned about how reliable would it be, and whether I could trust it to take me around safely, especially that it was moving on normal open ground. But after trying it twice, my confidence in its technology has increased. The ride is very comfortable, and it’s a joyful experience, because you realise you are part of the future of transportation. We always visualise what cars of the future would look like, and Masdar City is taking the lead towards that future. I look forward to Masdar City‘s completion and to having many such cars take us around there.
“I also look forward to the day such technology will be available on normal city roads. Not that I will retire from driving – far from it – but there are times when you just want to get into your car and ask it to take you somewhere, and just have a nap or read a magazine until you reach your destination.”
What do you think? Is this the future for monotonous journeys? Or the start of the rise of the machines?