The 4 best TED talks about cars

November 6, 2015 05:56 PM

These days, it seems like TED talks are everywhere. Even if you haven't run across one online, you may have heard one while driving because they've recently been adapted for radio. Named for "Technology, Education and Design," the talks are short presentations from top experts about life's biggest questions.

There's no doubt cars have had a deep impact on the world in the last 100-plus years. So it's no surprise that lots of TED talks tackle the pluses and minuses of automobiles. We scoured the Internet and found four of the most-viewed talks about cars:

1. Chris Bangle: Great cars are great art
In this talk, an auto designer shows how Michelangelo and Mercedes have more in common than you'd think. You might believe cars are designed on computers these days. Of course they play a huge role, but every car on the road has first been a model painstakingly sculpted out of clay, by artists.

"What we're interested in is finding form that's more than just a function," said Bangle, who long held the post as chief of design for BMW.

Recorded in 2002; 19 minutes, 54 seconds.

2. Jennifer Healey: If cars could talk, accidents might be avoidable
Healey, a research scientist at Intel, gave a talk in spring 2013 that lays out a vision that has already come a long way toward fruition: A future in which all vehicles on the road communicate with one another, making up for the inherent limitations of human drivers.

She invites viewers to think about what driving is like today as we all step into glass bubbles and roar down the highway.

"You can't really directly sense the world around you," Healey said. "You're in this extended body. You're tasked with navigating it down partially-seen roadways, in and amongst other metal giants, at super-human speeds. Okay? And all you have to guide you are your two eyes."

Healey concludes that by supplementing our senses with sensors and being willing to share our data, roads will become much safer.

Recorded in 2013; 8 minutes, 56 seconds.

3. Jonas Eliasson: How to solve traffic jams
A Swedish engineer shows how gridlock can be conquered by using simple incentives that cut the number of drivers on the roads during rush hour.

"A fee of less than $2 has freed Stockholm from intractable jams."

In his native Stockholm, a small fee of less than $2 has liberated the city of 2 million people from intractable jams. What's more is that the program, initially unpopular, now enjoys wide support.

"When you try to solve really complex social problems, the right thing to do is most of the time to create the incentives," Eliasson said. "You don't plan the details, and people will figure out what to do, how to adapt to this new framework."

Recorded in 2012; 8 minutes, 20 seconds.

Designers are studying the brain patterns of top race drivers.Designers are studying the brain patterns of top race drivers.

4. Chris Gerdes: The future race car -- 150 mph, and no driver
We've written recently here on the Precision Tune Auto Care blog about autonomous cars. In this talk, mechanical engineer Gerdes shows what driver-less car designers are learning from top race car drivers. Gerdes concludes that the right autonomous car technology can liberate the Richard Petty in all of us.

"Do we want something more from our car than to simply be a chauffeur?" asks Gerdes, who now teaches at Stanford University. "Do we want our car to perhaps be a partner, a coach, someone that can use their understanding of the situation to help us reach our potential? Can, in fact, the technology not simply replace humans, but allow us to reach the level of reflex and intuition that we're all capable of?"

Recorded in 2012; 10 minutes, 40 seconds.

If these four "car talks" capture your attention, TED presenters have much more to say about autos. Click through to this list of every TED talk that focuses on cars.

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