How we will move (stuff) around in the future – the second of a two part series covering the future of transport, logistics and planning.
Can you imagine that people used to move around with horse and carriage nowadays? That was only a few decades ago, but a huge difference compared with the current transport systems. Then, it shouldn’t be really hard to imagine that travelling via a pod-like vehicle in a vacuum through immense pipelines in the near future is not science fiction. Or that our packages will be dropped off by autonomous drones. In the first part I shared my vision on the changes technology will inflict in transport and how that may impact society incredibly. Let’s see how that translates in actual devices, vehicles and concepts.
More and more companies, like Tesla and Toyota, are investing in new ways of urban mobility that attunes to the shift towards usership. Unfortunately existing companies often carry forward the problems of the past. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) shouldn’t be approached as complementary product, but as a replacement of existing business models. Same things applies to for example public transportation. We need to do more than investing vast amounts of money in train infrastructures. Environmental and societal urgency should force us to focus on a digital infrastructure with proper security.
As we are shifting towards a circular economy that is empowering a society based on usership (instead of ownership), we can expect new business models, new procurement strategies and new forms of relationships. We need business to be done differently. At Conclusion that’s actually our motto. We have fostered an IT driven ecosystem that is not afraid to disrupt. Technology is the enabler, but the way we question every business process is the formula to our clients’ success. Simply, because businesses that dare to disrupt, experiment and create an agile work environment have the ability to fit in the future economy.
This groundwork for success is also applicable to the transport industry. This is the reason other means of transportation will arise that are perfectly suitable for the usership principle. Let’s see what some dare-devils came up with. Here’s a shortlist.
Examples of future people and cargo transportation
Hyperloop is a mode ofpassenger and cargo transportation that would drive a vehicle through a reduced-pressure tube. This pod-like vehicle could potentially exceed airliner speeds. A lot of innovation has happened since Elon Musk dropped his idea onto the world. Hyperloop One developed the first vehicle protoype and the first European hyperloop test facility has recently been opened in The Netherlands (Delft).
Ridesharing, or carpooling as we used to call it, is not a new concept. But it remains to be one with huge potential. If you are able to take away the hassle and make it truly easy, fun and applicable to customised circumstances, like Toogethr did, it’s up for a glorious future. Today it’s mainly focussed on ridesharing with owned cars, but in coming years I foresee a side stream of ridesharing-as-a-service from companies maintaining a fleet of cars for carpool purposes.
Also drones are not new to many of us, but the actual commercial business implementation is still in test phase. Most parties are focussing on flying drones, but how about driving drones?
MIT engineers are stating that rather than putting wings on cars, we should be helping drones to drive to make them more suitable for society.
- Bike sharing
Traditional bikes, smart bikes, e-bikes; bikes will continue to be an important part of the future transport gamut. Technologies as geo-fencing enable security and on-demand solutions to improve the bike sharing experience. And, although e-bikes are growing popularity, these are still expensive to buy. Another adoption reason to move over from ownership to usership. Madrid became the first European city to launch a fully electric bike share system. And more is happening in this area, check this trend list for other initiatives.
- Personal mobility device
Compact, agile ‘people-movers’ that can carry one person. Electric devices like Honda’s Uni-cub, that hold a self-balancing technology, open up new possibilities for people to zip short distances inside cities. Unlike with bikes or other two-wheel vehicles, you don’t need your hands to steer, so you can do something else while travelling.
- Small cargo robots
No more carrying around your own groceries and no more congestion and parking frustration while shopping. Small robots on wheels that can follow us around, like Gita. This mobile servant from Piaggio (Italy) is currently in its test phase. With machine learning we could eventually programme such cargo robots to do pick-up and delivery tasks autonomously.
- Self-driving vehicles
Autonomous vehicles, there already here. Tested and ready for use. Unfortunately the current infrastructure lacks the ability to facilitate this massively. In order to accommodate huge datasets, secure privacy and deal with legal liability topics a lot needs to change before these vehicles will become a usual public asset in our street scene.
- Flying cars
Practically all movies about the future used to contain flying cars. The science fiction of the 90s was mostly about the year 2020; will flying cars be common in our street scene by then? Probably not, but Volvo’s parent company, that bought startup Terrafugia, is coming up with arguably the first convincing prototype of a hybrid vehicle that could drive from an airport to someone’s destination. I wouldn’t be surprised to see flying Volvo’s in the next decade or so.
I’m curious to what disruption you find interesting in this perspective that is not on this list. I would be happy to supplement the overview with your suggestions.
Are you eager to discuss this topic? Awesome! Challenge me on Twitter: @arjenvanberkum.