When we talk about tomorrow’s world, advanced high-tech transportation is probably the first thing that comes to mind. People commuting in self navigating cars or even flying across city skylines in high speed vessels and jetpack backpacks alongside transporting drones, jumping from city to city in a nonchalant manner just as we would expect to see in a sci fi movie. Fantacy, you say. A good old saying “if you can imagine it, you can create it” seems to hold water according to recent developments. All of the afore fascinations seem bona fide at the time. How soon to materialization, however, could be an indeterminate story until of course it actually materializes.
Before long, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and unlimited smartphone connectivity will be the driving force behind metropolis transport transformation that alleviates traffic congestion and therefore extensive commuting time.
USA, the fourth largest country in the world in terms of size, and the third largest in terms of population across 50 states, is attempting a futuristic revolution. Starting with Columbus, Ohio, that has a population around 800,000, the city is now expected to to become a key terminus for Smart Transport.
In the US, a Smart Transport contests has been organized to encourage cities to transmogrify their own transit system as they best see fit. Designed to go beyond urban development, the scheme has a primary focus on promoting inter-city connectivity and support community-driven transportation technology. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has committed up to $40 million to the winning city while the cities raise remainder requirements through private and public financing sources, including Crowdfunding. As the winner, Columbus will need to incorporate Autonomous Shuttles that navigate the streets automatically with smart traffic lights, maximum security for pedestrians, passengers and surrounding creatures and minimize traffic congestion in the same token. Payments are to be made through smartphone applications as a onestop-shop that covers all related fees regardless of mode of transportation or number of mode hopping expeditions. The project may take some time to develop, as some of the technologies are already available while some have not been developed yet.
2. The Hyperloop
The Hyperloop, another sci fi fiction originally intended to run on Mars with sky rail vessels that shoot from point A to B with a 750 mph speed. The expensive loop is scheduled for final stage testing this year of which should the laboratory research subjects come out healthier on the other end and the chips fall where they should, construction will commence in five countries with tangible Hyperloops to show for some time around 2021.
3. Automated Guideway Transit (AGT)
Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) is known in Japan as the New Transportation System. The first automated system was launched in 1981 at Kobe Port Island Line, transporting over 400,000 passengers a day and later on expanded to six routes (including the Yurikamome Line and Nippori -Toneri Liner). AGT can navigate steep and curve terrains and used extensively over 25 routes in 8 different countries, including Singapore, Taiwan and one more route being added in Macau in 2019. Currently, AGT is being developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) to reach an acceleration suitable for long distance travel of up to 75 mph. To-date, over $170 billion is invested in rail systems around the globe and it is expected to expand in the future. As AGT is a driverless system, a smaller operating overhead can be expected as well.
As urbanism becomes a prevailing trend, population in a lot of countries are relocating to big cities, which in turn increases urban transport capacity requirements. Expectedly, traffic congestion, and simply over congestion, is causing air pollution that affects metro environment livelihood. AGT technology can serve as a viable solution in safeguarding clean air and fresh water. One way to change our future way of life, today, is Teleworking, or working from home which most have heard about but never experienced themselves. Research shows, that employees that are granted such privilege work even longer hours and increase performance beyond previous expectations to maintain the status. Some companies use the privilege as a reward for quality performance which have proved tremendously effective and popular particularly among parents working full time. Some even invest thousands of dollars to equip their home with and even better amenities and technological gadgets than what is available at the office. To the flip side, the opportunity cost of working from home, arguably, could reduce esprit de corps and teamwork efficiencies across distant members. Digitization to the rescue, long distance chats take place irrespective of the people right next to us on a regular basis now days, no kudoz are lost there perhaps. Besides, teleworking can take place once a week, twice, every other week or however the scheme works out best for the organization. The operative word is “increased performance”. After all, the idea wouldn’t become a concept in the first place without traffic, ergo 4-6 hours of the day committed to non-productive chores, never mind the stress, expenses and pollution on the cars’ behalf. As driving is a privilege that can be revoked or granted, not a right, so is Teleworking.
The journey towards the future does not depend on technological development and innovation in transportation, alone, but rather on a combination of many creative developments that stem from local communities that know what best suits their unique geological and demographic conditions. The AGT unmanned system has beared fruit, while the Hyperloop is on course for certain development in the near future. A smart future, for that matter, depends on the Smart Transport foundation laid today. It requires a transportation intelligence that is efficiently fine tuned to ever-changing needs, in real time. The good news is, the AGT has been running around for decades and exceeding all expectations, including the technological rendezvous with destiny. The Internet of Things (IoT) is an occurrence that is bound to take place, that has taken place beyond anyone’s free will in particular.
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References and images from forbes.com, transportation.gov, pexels.com