Business Briefs: November 2017

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Whistlestop Grill

Driverless Cars: Planning for Their Future

We know they’re coming, but we don’t know when or how they’ll affect us. Driverless cars, the technology that was predicted long before most of us were born, was the topic of U.Va.’s “community conversation” in late September. With the presence of Perrone Robotics in the area, it seemed like a good time for this kind of conversation, said Andrew Mondschein, an assistant professor of urban and environmental planning at U.Va. Mondschein was a panelist at the forum, where Paul Perrone gave the opening remarks.

Mondschein said the forum gave people a chance to ask questions and the speakers to clear up misconceptions. One common mistake people make is thinking of driverless cars as a kind of “all or nothing” situation, he said. “If you think of it as a continuum, with some driverless features at the start; and the complete ability for a car to drive itself at the end, we’re somewhere in the middle,” he said. Automation—kind of like autopilot on a plane—can be used when it appears safe to the human driver, who’s still present in the car. This technology assumes well-marked signs and roads.

The car that depends on complete connectivity, that can talk to other vehicles and talk to the road is presently possible, but depends on many changes in infrastructure. “In the near future, we might see cars that are fine navigating on the highway but do require someone to make that decision,” Mondschein said.

As for the idea of driverless cars helping with reducing the growing congestion and vehicle accidents on the commute between Charlottesville and Western Albemarle, he sees mass transportation as the only real way to address that. If driverless cars could help with establishing mass transit; for instance, if there were a lane added to I-64 dedicated to driverless cars with multiple passengers, that would help, he said, but of course it would help with any form of mass transit.

Mondschein found one aspect of the conversation to be especially auspicious. “It’s remarkable to see a technology company like Perrone interact from the start with the public, the engineering and planning community and government officials,” he said. “It’s a very good beginning.”

Santosha to Move

Chloe Watkins and Ashley Holland, Santosha Yoga owners.

As of January 1, Santosha Yoga studio will open its doors across town from its present home in Piedmont Place to the former Handcrafters space next to Sam’s Hot Dogs in the Crozet Shopping Center. The move will provide more room for the popular studio, including spaces for a lounge and child care, and will allow for more course offerings. To find out more about Santosha Yoga and see the schedule of classes, visit crozetyoga.com.

Wayland’s Crossing Tavern Now Open

Wayland’s Crossing Tavern, at the Old Public West site, serves Irish and American pub favorites with a gourmet twist, and is open at 4 p.m. for dinner every day except Tuesday. Since its opening October 20, business has been lively, said co-owner Kim Dillon.

Whistlestop Grill Opens Downtown

The long-awaited restaurant opened in mid-October and immediately became a favorite. Whistlestop Grill, owned by Connie Snead, is open every day from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., except Sundays, when it closes at 2 p.m. It’s in the building that formerly housed Cocina del Sol, next to the barbershop, and serves traditional diner-style food in a warm and friendly atmosphere.

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