For years, researchers have been working behind the scenes to improve autonomous vehicles. And all of a sudden, that work is playing out in a very public way.

Top tech companies and automakers are testing new models on the streets, talking bullishly about fleets of self-driving cars, and thinking about how to combine electrification with automation. Meanwhile, regulators and city planners are trying to keep up with the pace of technological change. This year will likely mark the beginning of the commercial autonomous car era.

Will that era bring sweeping efficiency improvements to the transportation sector? Or will it result in a chaotic, overcrowded hellscape for our streets? The decisions we make today will determine our fate. In this week's show, we'll talk with Joshua Goldman, a senior policy analyst for clean vehicles at the Union of Concerned Scientists, about those two potential futures.

In the second half of the show, we’ll examine Uber’s attempt to help city planners by opening up some of its data. And we’ll discuss President Obama's article in Science magazine arguing that the clean energy transition is "irreversible."

This podcast is sponsored by KACO New Energy, a leading solar inverter company with superior engineering and unmatched customer service.