Linklist: May 7, 2012

Reason says: New Light Rail Ridership Falls Short by More Than Half:

“Los Angeles’ brand new $930 million Exposition light rail line is carrying so few riders and bringing in so little revenue that it will, at best, take 65 years for the train to earn back its capital investment (not including ongoing operating costs). If the project completes its next phase and establishes an at-grade train that runs through heavy street traffic from Downtown L.A. to the city of Santa Monica, it will not pay for its construction for 170 years. “

Daniel Teridman @ CNET: Hindenburg disaster 75 years ago abruptly ended zeppelin era:

“Yet the Hindenburg accident, as dramatic as it was, only put a sudden exclamation point on the already seemingly inevitable end of the era of the great zeppelins. In the years leading up to World War II, airplanes were already beginning to supplant the giant airships as a much more efficient and economical way to cross oceans.”

KurzweilAI: Robot cars get ready to roll:

“Manufacturers such as Ford have announced that autonomous vehicles are the future. Bill Ford, executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, recently said that the company sees ‘the introduction of semi-autonomous driving technology, including driver-initiated ‘auto pilot’ capabilities, and vehicle platooning in limited situations’ as early as 2017.
In the longer term, from 2025 onwards he believes we will see the ‘arrival of smart vehicles capable of fully autonomous navigation, with increased ‘auto pilot’ operating duration, plus the arrival of autonomous valet functions, delivering effortless vehicle parking and storage.’”