Building the World

July 17, 2014
by buildingtheworld
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Horseless Carriages to Driverless Cars

 

Driverless Cars. Image with appreciation to Stanford University at http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/.

In 1902, there were 17 million horses and only 23,000 cars in the United States but six years later, Henry Ford rolled the first Model T off the production line at the Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit. By 1921, 387,000 miles of paved roads transformed the United States to a driving economy. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 continues to finance improvements, including Boston’s Big Dig. Was Henry Ford prescient in calling his invention an “auto-mobile?” Will we soon be a nation of driverless cars? Should Nafta be expanded to link autonomous smart highways from South to North, in a new Via Panam?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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October 9, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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A River (of Green) Runs Through It: Boston’s Central Artery

Boston’s Greenway. Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Greenways, like the Rose Kennedy Greenway, jewel of the Central Artery in Boston, Massachusetts, offer economic, artistic and public health benefits. An urban equivalent of the Appalachian Trail, such stretches of nature bring fresh air into dense cities including Dalian China, planned to emulate Haussmann’s Paris and the Washington, D.C. of L’Enfant and Banneker. But greenways may provide another aspect of public health: disaster response routes. City centers are prone to blockage; greenways could serve as pathways to safety, and as a means of reaching critical areas. Meanwhile, these ribbons of green keep city dwellers healthy. Sunday bicyclists traversing the Paseo de Reforma, in Mexico City, could use the same route if an earthquake strikes. Might the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters (www.umb.edu/crscad/) lead the way for an expansion of urban greenways in the world’s cities vulnerable to earthquakes?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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May 29, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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US Interstate: Horses to Horsepower

Wild Horses, U.S. Bureau of Land Management

More than 17 million horses shared American roads with 23,000 cars in 1903. Five years later, Henry Ford rolled the Model T off the production line in Detroit, Michigan. Soon, the phrase “horseless carriage” was in vogue (following Scottish engineer James Watt’s coining of the term “horsepower” as that unit of energy needed to lift 550 lbs 1 foot in 1 second). Inspired by Germany’s Autobahn, Dwight Eisenhower authorized the Federal Highway System on June 29, 1956. Soon, the interstate system stretched 160,093 miles (275,645 kilometers) from Maine to California, accounting for 43% of all American travel and transit. But traffic and accidents endanger roads. For these and other reasons, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency launched the DARPA Grand Challenge, a prize contest for driverless cars. In 2004, no entrant succeeded. But in 2005, Sebastian Thrun, co-inventor of Google Street View, headed a team that won by modifying a Prius with Google Driverless Technology. In 2012, Nevada became the first state to legalize driverless cars, with Florida and California racing just behind. What factors will drive the future of cars and highways?

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

 

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September 4, 2012
by zoequinn001
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A Global Interstate

The Federal Highway Administration, founded as it exists today in 1966, is part of the Department of Transportation. The FHWA helps state and local authorities “with the design, construction, and maintenance of the Nation’s highways” (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/about/). Their work doesn’t end there; the FHWA has within it a department called the “Office of International Programs” which acts as a point of contact between the FHWA and international communities with questions regarding transportation systems. In this manner a dialogue has been created to allow for improvements in the U.S. Interstate System and other roadways, as well as those around the world!

For more on the Office of International Programs, please see:
http://international.fhwa.dot.gov/outreach.cfm 

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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