Future Commuting: The Office Comes to You?

Design company envisions a future of self-driving cars, trucks and even offices.

Within a couple of decades, the traditional commute of driving your car to the downtown office will seem as remote as taking a horse-and-buggy to the telegraph station.

That's the contention in this very cool web presentation by design company Ideo. Titled "Automobility," the site is a multimedia, interactive tour of what city life might be like in 15 years or so. The site predicts self-driving cars and delivery trucks will come on the scene soon, followed by a third wave of change in which the office itself could become mobile.

Fake City Being Built to Test Real Driverless Cars

In dense urban areas, self-driving cars will lock into a citywide grid system designed to make traffic flow with optimum efficiency. And since you won't be driving, you'll be more efficient as well. The interior design of cars will change so that each vehicle is a potential mini-office, with swiveling chairs and pop-up desks.

The site notes that the first instances of self-driving tech are already on the way. In 2015, Volvo cars will feature cruise control with steer assist, which will automatically follow the vehicle ahead if you're stuck in traffic. By 2020, Nissan expects to sell vehicles with autonomous steering, braking, lane guidance, throttle, gear shifting and unoccupied self-parking.

Mash-Up Puts Cars On Maglev Tracks

Self-driving delivery trucks will also come on the scene within a decade, using a 24-hour delivery model that moves goods around during off-peak traffic hours. At night, municipal parking lots will turn into electric charging stations for the fleet.

Finally, the Ideo site imagines a future in which, rather than going to the office, the office comes to you. Commute times could be reduced by way of "Work on Wheels" sites in which modular office spaces can drive themselves to different parts of the city, depending on circumstances. For instance, that baseball parking lot that sits empty in the winter could house several city blocks worth of mobile office spaces.

It's an interesting glimpse into a potential future, with some delightfully trippy images. Check out the full presentation at Automobility, or here's a brief video preview:

Adventures abound this week's gallery. Take a walk (or ride) on the wild side. A new tourist attraction in Canada is creating a lot of excitement. The Glacier Skywalk at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Center in Banff is a transparent walkway that suspends visitors 918 feet above the ground. The breathtaking view includes glacier-carved valleys and rushing waterfalls.

You're data is in the cloud, but isn't time you went there, too? University of Art and Design students Jordi Iranzo, Stefanie Rittler and Nadine Kesting created an interactive and translucent art installation named Cumulus, A Space for Calm, that allows people to experience life in a cloud. The structure, suspended from the trees, has a permeable fabric that allows moisture and diffused light to seep inside.

The screens just keep getting bigger. This week, a single, block-long LED sign installed on the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square in New York was tested. It replaced a number of smaller signs that just simply wouldn't do.

Samsung announced that its virtual reality headset, the Gear VR, will ship in early December. Its high-res screen actually comes from a Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, which users need to snap into the headset. The upside is that now you have a place to keep that big phone, since it doesn't fit in any of your pockets; the downside is that you can never upgrade your phone, unless Samsung makes newer versions that are the exact same size and have the same VR capability.

The European Space Agency and London-based architectural firm, Foster + Partners, released a


this week demonstrating a 3D-printed moon base. The construction material would come from lunar soil mixed with magnesium oxide, a process that would produce a paper-thin material that could be printed around an inflatable habitat dome. Earth-bound experiments in Italy using volcanic soil have already proven the feasibility.

Inspired by Van Gogh’s iconic Starry Night painting, designer Daan Roosegaarde in collaboration with Heijmans Infrastructure created the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle path, which opened to the public this week in the Dutch town of Nuenen, where Van Gogh lived in 1883. The path is made of thousands of stones that absorb sunlight during the day and then glow at night.

This custom motorcycle from master designer J.T. Nesbitt was built for entrepreneur Jim Jacoby as a flagship product for Jacoby's new enterprise, American Design and Master Craft Initiative. Three bikes were crafted from wood, brass and leather to make up Bienville Legacy. Each beautifully houses 300 horses of power and craftsmanship to last a lifetime.

French designer Arturo Erbsman presented his Atmos LED lamp at Salone Satellite during 2014 Milan design week. The bulb is made from hand-blown glass and contains a small pool of water that evaporates as the bulb warms. Droplets condense on the inner walls and as they grow larger, slide back down into the pool -- microcosm of planet Earth's own water cycle. The lamp won the Salone Satellite Award Winner of Interieur Award.

Eurostar's brand new e320 fleet of high-speed rail was unveiled this week in London. The e320 -- a name that comes from its maximum speed, 320 kilometers per hour (200 mph) -- connects London with Brussels and Paris.

New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection announced that over the next year, 2,000 sidewalks in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens will be getting an upgrade. Engineers will install bioswales -- rainwater-absorbing gardens -- designed to divert four million gallons of stormwater from city sewers. The concrete jungle will have more greenery and less overflow.