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Ghost Road Reviews

Ghost Road by Anthony M. Townsend

Ghost Road: Beyond the Driverless Car

Anthony M. Townsend

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: WW Norton & Co
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Publication date: 16 Jun 2020
ISBN: 9781324001522

A penetrating look at near-future disruption as truly autonomous vehicles arrive.

4 stars out of 5
23 Jun 2020

"(an) exhilarating but daunting drive into the near future "

One of Townsend’s main themes is the spatial implications of automated vehicles, which could redraw cities. Roads could be narrower with AVs able to travel closer together, while the vast amount of land used for parking could be removed because AVs would be forever on the move, “storing themselves in perpetual motion”. You would no longer own a vehicle, but summon one when needed, like ordering a taxi.

Some readers will feel that Townsend has sketched out a future with vast possibilities; to others, it will seem like a nightmarish vision where robots effectively control our movement. Both groups, however, will learn a lot.


2 stars out of 5
4 Jun 2020


But, in fairness to the book, it assumes ‘we’ll either perfect self-driving technology, or there won’t be an AV industry to speak of’.

As it happens my favourite fact was about the past. The first self-driving vehicles were ships. A rope connected the sail to the tiller, tied in such a way that whenever the wind blew the ship one way, the rope pulled the tiller and steered it back the opposite way. Isn’t that wonderful?