The Futures of Mobility: From Well-being To Hyperloops
עודכן ב: 11 נוב 2019
Smart Mobility Summit 2019, an annual event which highlights industry innovation and hot issues, ended by taking a look at the distant future of the field. While throughout the summit companies, startups, reporters, investors, government agencies, and tech enthusiasts all gathered to gain a snapshot into the world of smart transport, the final panel, titled “Beam Me to the Future”, aimed to see past the current innovations and technologies being introduced and look towards the next era of mobility.
Tel Aviv, the location of summit, was presented as a potential hub of the future of mobility. Israel has three fields in which it is a world leader: healthcare, cybersecurity and mobility, said Dorman Followwill, a senior partner at Frost & Sullivan. The next big thing could lie in the intersection of the three. Imagine a car, that instead of the driver directing the vehicle, uses its autonomous capabilities to allow the driver to relax and focus on himself. A car was once just a car. Today, it has become a portable computer. In the future it can become a “wellbeing center on wheels”. As an industry consultant, based on the growing number of inquiries by automotive executives about the healthcare industry, Followwill predicts a convergence between the two. By providing a single view of the patient, from home to hospital, the car can theoretically play a critical role in diagnostics and have the patient ready for primary care before even arriving at a clinic, along with other features aimed at benefiting the passenger.
A different view of the future of automotive has the car of the future positioned not as an even more advanced consumer item, but as the main element of a remodeled public transport system. "Once autonomous vehicle (AV) technology becomes fully operational, cars will no longer be privately owned", claims Marc Granger, CSO of Alstom. "Instead, they’ll be provided as a service to users. You’ll open your phone, order a car on an app, it’ll show up and take you to your destination, and continue to the next stop. Once it becomes the main form of transport, an AV fleet will become more and more similar to today’s rail service (hopefully Switzerland’s rail service). There will be less freedom than a private, human-driver vehicle, going only where infrastructure is in place to support it. Taken to the extreme, once a fleet of AV becomes a central feature of the public transport system (because remember, no one owns their own AV, since anyways most of the time your car sits unused), an overall supervisor will be able to optimize car and road usage to serve the public good. Maximizing the efficiency of the public system and fully utilizing investment can be prioritized, even if that conflicts with the individual’s desire to get from A to B whenever she wants. The public-private transport dichotomy will break down, and maybe a city or a small country (ahem, Israel) can lead the way and create an integrated and streamlined mobility throughout its territory".
One side effect may be the end of driving as pleasure. Once cars are a centrally-run optimized mobility service, where do motorcycles fit in? And road-trips? What happens to the feeling of freedom and power that comes from getting behind a wheel in an unknown land? Although the question was not addressed directly in the panel, Pierluigi Zampieri, Head of Innovation Management at Ducati Motorcycles, hinted to it by saying that Ducati is not strictly a mobility company, but a company that mixes mobility and passion. Where will passion be in the future?
As befits a discussion of the future by people who are not sci-fi writers, the changes discussed in depth were the ones that only utilized existing technologies in new ways. Today, the technologies for IoT diagnostics in cars, AV, smart public transport, even communication between motorcycles and cars all exist, even if not fully viable for market. Despite this, the panelists predicted that we will see flying cars before we see AV, though not at a scale that will impact general mobility. Hyperloops, low-pressure tubes where passengers can travel in pods at speeds of 1,200 km/h, faster even than air-travel, were considered as an innovation technically feasible, but economically impossible. Although, if we live to see the future, who are we to say how it will look.