Last week, I attended two events discussing the future of mobility in the United States – the Florida Automated Vehicle Summit and the American Public Transportation Association’s Leadership Summit. With the U.S. population expected to add more than 75 million people within the next 50 years, the challenges for moving people within and between cities in the future are clear: how do we sustainably reduce traffic congestion, safely and efficiently in a way that will respond to the needs of Generation Alpha, a digitally native generation, expecting personalized, shared and on-demand options?
A few key findings and questions were consistent. Self-driving vehicles (SDVs) are the future: how do we ensure that there is the right transportation planning to integrate them safely into our transportation system? Single means of public transportation is no longer enough; passengers need efficient, shared, on-demand transportation at their fingertips. Electric vehicles are sustainably the way of the future, but only if we build a strong infrastructure to support them.
Integrating Self-Driving Vehicles
Self-Driving Vehicles will reinvent how we think about the car. Just think about those who don't typically drive, like the elderly or blind people. Self-Driving Vehicles can change this, which is great, but it could also lead to an increase in traffic congestion. We need to rethink how they will be integrated into the transportation system and optimize SDVs’ role as an enabler for new shared mobility services, solving first/last mile challenges and connecting other means of transportation.
Cities such as Tampa, Las Vegas, New York or complete states like Michigan are preparing for SDV by using connected vehicle technology today. Connected Vehicle technology transmits vehicle position, speed, direction, latitude and longitude 10 times per second. The infrastructure can give the driver (or eventually the vehicle) suggestions in real time like harmonized speed recommendations, red light violation warnings, curve speed or wrong way driving warnings. With Connected Vehicle applications cars will become traffic data generators and information prosumers transforming cities’ traffic management capabilities.
The Demise of Single Mode Public Transportation
There has been a steady decline in public transportation ridership throughout the U.S. At the same time, there has been an astronomical growth of bike-sharing, ride-sharing and scooter-sharing. In August 2018, there were 300,000 scooter rides in Austin alone. The key to effective transportation planning is creating a system where riders can go into one easy-to-use app and book and pay for their full transportation including their scooter that they will use to get to the metro from which they will take an SDV the last mile to get to their destination. In Austin, CapMetro is bullish to expand the integration of multimodal transportation into its app. As the next generation that cannot yet drive comes of age, they will continue to demand more shared modes of transportation readily available.
From eCars to eBuses, the only way that the automotive industry will successfully reduce its carbon footprint is to increase the integration and production of electric vehicles. However, this presents challenges – there is no one singular technology for electric charging and how to integrate the charging stations and business model into a city is a difficult feat. The California Energy Commission just awarded Siemens a grant to help planning a blueprint to achieve EV readiness to catalyze Electrified Transportation based on Santa Clara. Located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, the City of Santa Clara is a typical, mid-size city in California, representative of perhaps 90 other cities. The consideration of traffic data, prediction of patterns and layering with high-hybrid penetration data, existing EV charging station data, and preferred utility charging locations will to catalyze electrified transportation.
The future of mobility is critical to the economic and social development of our cities. It’s important that technologies are carefully mapped to the future needs of the cities and planned effectively to ensure the longevity and usefulness of the transportation systems, and the prosperity of those using them.
Published On: December 10th, 2018