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Designing Transportation Systems

Recently I’ve become very interested in the technologies being developed around optimising and improving transportation for people.

From my very initial reading, it seems that in the next 5 years we will have commercially available self driving cars and in the next 20 years, entire networks of self driving cards that will be available to most people in the developed world.

This week Google released an update on where they are at with the development of their own self driving technology. (See above)

I’m particularly interested in the infrastructure that will be needed to be built to support this breakthrough. It doesn’t seem hard to imagine a scenario where you use an UBER type application on your smart phone to book a car to take you out to dinner or to work each day.

Exploring the businesses models around these developments is very interesting. It may be that our kids will never actually own a car, rather they might pay an annual fee to be able to hire a car on demand. Most of the time our cars sit idle costing us money, so an on demand service makes sense.

Transportation

Self driving cars, apart from being safer, will also be more economic, being able to drive other people around while you are at work.

Above is a sketch of a multi story car storage and maintenance centre where the cars could also charge, assuming they are electric. Existing energy companies like BP, may in the future own these buildings which could be used by any number of cars made by different manufactures providing they have a standard charging interface.

I’ve not read enough yet about this work happening in this space, but I’m looking forward to learning more and sharing some ideas around how we might be able to design the transportation systems of the future.

 

UPDATE: There are a group of engineers and designers from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who have a goal to become the first city in the world to have a driverless car network. (See video below)

Interesting statistic: 80% of driver accidents are caused by human error. There are 1.2 million deaths globally caused by cars. Remove the drivers, and we save around 960,000 lives. This number of course assumes the driverless technology is evenly distributed globally which wouldn’t be the case initially, but its a goal to work towards.

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