Just like so many other things in our lives, technology will also change the way we move from one place to another. It’s not quite what Back to the Future predicted with half the traffic infrastructure moving to the sky, but there will for sure be new inventions that sounded sci-fi in the 1980s. Take a look at some of the things that will change, and are already changing, in the future city.
1. Gasoline cars will be replaced by electric cars
When you leave the house at an undetermined point in future time, the vehicle you will jump into runs on electricity. This is something that’s already around, and increasingly so. Electric cars are replacing gasoline cars, and it’s been encouraged by cities by offering cheaper parking and free charging (you may have already seen those charging stations in your city). The reason is obvious – electric cars produce around 50 % less emissions in traffic, and also 15 % less in manufacturing according to estimates.
Countries like Norway and Sweden are planning to get rid of fuel-powered cars for good in the coming decades, and only have electric cars in a bid to combat environmental issues.
2. Drivers will disappear
The vehicle you will travel in is not operated by a human person. You know those campfire stories where there’s a car on the road and when it passes you, you notice that the driver’s seat is empty? This will soon be reality, but in a lot less grim manner – driverless cars are another innovation whose prevalence is just a matter of time. These are cars that are able to navigate to locations based on information they gather from all around with for example GPS and sensors. They are one part of the general move towards robotics that’s happening especially in service industries.
Self-driving cars will be awesome because a) they save time and effort from someone actually having to drive b) they are safer because they will not make human mistakes in traffic and c) they will always choose the most economical route because they’ve been wired that way.
3. We no longer need to know where we’re going – or even where we are
You will not have to worry about knowing the route of your vehicle – forget maps, and forget Google Maps. Interconnected navigation systems will make it possible for our choice of transport (or in case of walking, your phone) to know where we are going based on very little information, such as the name of a building, or restaurant, or station – or simply your frequent whereabouts.
Thanks to GPS, your phone will always know where you are and that’s great because it’s also a safety thing: even if you get lost, your phone will not. This is something that emergency services have also already started to make use of, so when a person calls, their location is automatically shown.
4. We will not have our own cars
The vehicle you will be sitting in is not yours – nor is it necessarily anyone else’s either. Of course, some people will have their personal cars, but there will more and more be shared property, and the whole concept of cars will likely change more from ownership towards usership. Shared mobility gives you the benefits of a car but not the rolling costs of actually owning one. This basically means that each person uses a common car within agreed terms and times.
Another concept under shared mobility is ridesharing – people can jump onto rides that are going the same way they are. It’s essentially like dynamic, more scattered public transport. The benefits, in addition to potentially finding a ride to somewhere where the bus doesn’t even go, include smaller environmental burden – less cars in traffic and maximized per-ride usage.
5. We don’t have to search for a parking space
Reaching your destination, you will not have to worry about parking. This is what ParkMan is contributing to, of course. In the future the plan is to never have to circle around looking for a parking space ever again, and not having to guess where a parking lot or garage is located. This information will be seamlessly attached to your phone through a parking app, but perhaps also to your vehicle. For parking providers, it means less chaos on the streets and less resources to enforcement.
Traditionally anonymous and detached from city information systems, parking facilities will be part of the connected mobility of cities. The benefits are in line and interconnected with other new technology: saving time, making the flow of the city smoother, and reducing unnecessary traffic.
6. Everything will be connected
It’s all actually included above in the other points, but this one still deserves its own mention. Information technology is the one huge thing that is present in all the changes, and the reason for your futuristic transport experience is that data “talks” all around you. That’s how your vehicle of choice finds you in the first place, and takes you through the quickest route with the least traffic.
There will be sensors, satellites and of course us ourselves with our phones collecting and sharing information – creating what’s called open data. This is what ties it all together, and makes moving people and things smooth in the future city.
While there are changes taking place in infrastructure technology, tying those together are the advances happening in information technology. It’s actually hard to break it down to pieces, because what characterizes the future city is precisely the way in which everything is interconnected.
The reasons it’s happening are three-fold. Firstly, it’s happening because it can. Constantly evolving technology is enabling things that used to be impossible. Second, it’s happening because it’s needed. Urban areas are growing so rapidly that the chaos needs to be controlled more smoothly for the standard of living and safety of residents. Third, it’s happening because it has to. Our burden on the environment is excessive, and these methods help reduce it.
Aiding technology already plays an increasingly large part in our lives, and soon it will be present for all our travels and commutes too. As for now, we will remain observing the change, and keep hoping for those flying cars – or at least hoverboards.