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Manufacturing Minute: The Hyperloop Moves Closer To Reality

In this episode, the Hyperloop moves closer to reality, unions may get overhauled, and self-driving taxis are coming.

In this episode, the Hyperloop moves closer to reality, unions may get overhauled, self-driving taxis are coming.

Away We Go

Two years ago, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk proposed a system to propel passenger pods through tunnels at rates approaching the speed of sound.

It sounded like fantasy, but the futuristic Hyperloop is gaining interest from innovators, investors and the public.

Private companies are working on beta test tracks, including a five-mile stretch in central California under development by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, while Musk will soon host a pod design competition.

Several cities have already expressed interest in bidding for regional hubs, citing their potential economic benefits.

With so much public and private interest, a functional system could be as little as two years away.

Union Overhaul

Republicans in Congress this week introduced legislation to alter organized labor practices, arguing unions should do a better job of representing their members. 

The bill would require a secret ballot before organizing a union or going on strike. It would also require votes after significant workforce turnover and require unions to gain members' consent before using their dues for political contributions.

No Democrats have signed on to support the measure, meaning the bill could face an uphill climb in the Senate.

Robo Taxis

A Japanese mobile gaming company, recently announced plans for a fleet of self-driving taxis. D.N.A. hopes to get their Robot Taxis perfected in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics, when swarms of tourists will descend on the bustling streets of Tokyo.

So what do you think? Recent innovations in self-driving cars don’t make D.N.A.’s announcement all that surprising, but how far is too far?

Apple, Google, BMW are among the companies investing in autonomous driving, but artificial intelligence capabilities have also prompted concerns from top scientific minds – including a warning this week from Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk about artificially intelligent weapons.

Are we just asking for trouble by putting robots on the road, or, with self-driving cars only a few years away, should we embrace the next step in driving technology?

Email us or leave your comments below.

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