Transportation is going through a wide range of changes. Technology transforms everything in this industry, from the way we’re going to drive our cars (or not) to the infrastructure for public transport and shipping.
It’s the beginning of a new world, where more than 7 billion people must commute faster, safer and with fewer effects on the environment. From autonomous vehicles and electric trains to innovative infrastructure solutions, technology sets new standards for transportation:
- less traffic flows – with impact on safety and efficiency;
- sustainability – more zero-emission engines;
- customized experiences with smaller costs;
- economic growth – new job opportunities and higher productivity levels.
Cars are no longer seen as products, but rather as a service. Millennials are changing the auto market, as more of them decide not to buy a car. Instead of paying an average of $30,000 plus interest and fees for an auto loan, the new generation prefers a different type of mobility. Car sharing, bikes, and sustainable public transportation are new habits that respond to the ‘smart city’ concept.
It’s all tech-driven. And most of it it’s already happening. Here are four ways in which technology can change the future of transportation.
Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs)
In 2013, we had 23 million connected cars spread across the globe. Gartner estimates that, by 2020, a quarter billion connected vehicles will be on our roads. Connected devices are the main trend in technology at the moment, with more smartphone users looking to get the most of mobility services.
Connected cars will be able to share information (location tracking, alerts, alternative routes, efficient parking solutions). With the development of AI, cars incorporate new technologies, such as computer vision, voice recognition, or machine learning.
Autonomous vehicles are the next generation of cars, ready to take control of our roads. While drivers are still doubting the safety of completely self-driven cars, there’s no doubt this technology has its advantages. CAVs can monitor traffic, identify efficient routes inside the city, while giving you more time – as you won’t be stuck behind the wheel anymore.
All this, in a secure environment. Groupe Renault and Microsoft are working on blockchain technology to create a digital car maintenance book. And, IBM and Maersk are working on a similar project to come up with secure methods for global trade using blockchain.
The Future of Transportation World Conference 2018 will discuss the challenges for the rail industry, as the demand for services in this niche continues to grow. Electric trains can be the answer to higher mobility, with fewer costs and smaller carbon emissions. Electric drivetrains are powerful and efficient, making transportation quiet, clean and cheap. Better than that, the system is more efficient if the energy comes from renewable sources.
An alternative to electric trains comes from Asia. Maglev trains are fast (267 mph) but expensive. They operate in China and South Korea. Yet, experts still need to improve safety features and to make the technology cost-effective.
When talking about how technology can change the way we commute on high distances, we can’t ignore hyperloop. An innovative concept made popular by Elon Musk, that wishes to create a revolution in transportation.
Basically, it’s a vacuum tube where a pod slides along a magnetized track. Hyperloop can move at very high speed using little energy, which makes it cost-effective in the long run. Hyperloops are closer than we think, with environmental impact studies that already include this technology in the US.
Smart Cities – Urban Mobility
By 2030, 60% of the world’s population is going to be concentrated in urban areas, according to the United Nations. In this context, transportation inside urban areas has to come up with innovative solutions to cut pollution and reduce congestion.
We’re talking about a new urban mobility concept, where autonomous vehicles and an intelligent transport system manage to help people commute to work faster, cheaper and with less impact on the environment.
Millennials already prefer car sharing as an alternative to traditional car ownership. The reasons are obvious: with an app on your smartphone, you get a ride without all the obligations coming from having your own car – insurance, parking, or fuel, to mention some of them.
Authorities seem to agree with services like Zipcar, Lyft, or Uber, as a solution to reduce traffic and congestion in large cities. For example, if you’re struggling with tax deductions for rideshare drivers, you should know that from this year you’ll pay less, thanks to tax cuts for business and individuals.
Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)
Besides car sharing, more cities are implementing zero-emissions public transport. Companies project smart automated vehicles that can share information and process real-time data about traffic conditions, efficient routes and other vehicles in traffic. It means cities should work on improving their infrastructure, as well. This will allow them to make the intelligent transport system efficient and cost-effective.
The new technology could soon be adapted for self-driven tracks. They can transport goods on the roads faster, with less fuel consumption, reduced C02 emissions, and without putting people’s safety at risk.
The European Commission, for example, sustains state members in finding new technologies for intelligent transport systems. Because, more effective transportation solutions for businesses and individuals will create new jobs and consistent growth in the industry, besides solving traffic and pollution problems.
From public transport to shipping, technology is changing the transportation industry at deep levels. Electric, self-driven cars, high-speed trains, and car sharing are tech-driven solutions for today’s commuting problems.
Better than that, companies are already building the future, by implementing new technologies – big data, AI, the internet of things – to connect vehicles and infrastructure, in order to provide innovative services in the sector.