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What’s The Future Of Transportation?16 Experts Share Their Insights

  • 30 June 2019
  • Sam Mire

Flying cars…crash-proof motorbikes…squirrel chauffers. OK, maybe I'm getting a bit carried away with my personal vision for the future of transportation. But a man can dream, can't he?

For a more realistic vision of the future of transportation, here are some industry insiders kind enough to share their (significantly more trustworthy) insights:

1. Susan Shaheen, Ph.D., Co-Director of the Transportation Sustainability Resource Center at UC-Berkeley

“The future of transportation is shared, electric, and automated. The shared mobility ecosystem continues to grow and includes an array of services such as: carsharing, microtransit, for-hire services, and shared micromobility. The convergence of shared mobility, electrification, and automation is predicted to have a transformative effect on goods access and mobility. Over the next 20 years, level 5 fully automated vehicles will be increasingly deployed in the marketplace, making these services more cost-effective, efficient, and convenient than human-driven, privately owned vehicles.”

2. Etienne Deffarges, Author of Untangling the USA: The Cost of Complexity

“Climate change demands lower carbon dependency in electricity generation and transportation. Clean power solutions already exist: Today 40% of US power generation comes from non-fossil sources. However, 95% of transportation energy comes from fossil fuels. The future of transportation will thus focus on its decarbonization: Cities will promote bicycling and electric mass transit systems at the expense of individual cars; climate change will disrupt current disrupters like Uber, since the proliferation of individual rides is too energy intensive and leads to intolerable levels of congestion; high-speed rail and Maglev trains will replace air travel for distances up to 1,000 miles.”

3. Sara Schaer, founder and CEO of Kango, ridesharing for kids

“I see even more intelligent ways of sharing rides on the horizon, and increased tie-ins with public transit – which will go even more digital and become perhaps completely autonomous. Specialized segments like kids and medical/senior rides which involve caregiving, will still require human assistance.

In the far future, I can visualize a Bladerunner-type future with flying cars and/or underground roads, with maybe new vehicle types entirely – all-electric or using alternative/clean fuel sources. Cities will be gradually redesigned due to reduced need for parking and people living further away, as they can work in autonomous vehicles during their commute.”

4. Richard Reina, Product Training Director at CARiD

“The future of vehicle transportation is autonomous driving and electric vehicles (EVs) both of which have been touted over the past few years. While EVs have been integrated into society we are still waiting for autonomous vehicles, which have run into a few speed bumps recently. Autonomous driving is still being tested as there are many safety concerns and the general public is more wary of the technology. Nonetheless, the car of the future will be more like riding in a private bus or train car with lots of opportunity for different kinds of customization.”

5. Juan Rodriguez, co-founder and CEO of FlashParking

“The exponential growth in micro-mobility is going to continue, with first and last mile transportation options expanding and being adopted widespread—in smaller cities, too. And the progression of self-driving cars is obviously on the horizon. Although fully autonomous vehicles might not be a reality in the next few years, cars with self-parking and driving assistance are already on the roads. We’re helping parking garages to transition into next generation mobility hubs that can harbor micro-mobility devices, serve intelligent autonomous vehicles, and offer other services like charging. That’s where we are directing resources—to bringing this vision to life.”

6. Alex Nesic, co-founder & CBO at CLEVR Mobility

“What’s old is new again. I believe there will be a dramatic increase in the adoption of so-called micro-mobility. More specifically, light electric vehicles (LEVs) both as shared systems and as consumer products are positioned to claim a much bigger role in urban transportation. Electrification of small vehicles like bikes and scooters has truly opened the door to much broader adoption and the lower the cost goes, the more adoption we will see.”

7. Jeff Tumlin, Principal at Nelson/Nygaard and Author of Sustainable Transportation Planning 

“A non-dystopic future starts with the essentials:

-Health: Our bodies require 10,000 steps every day for basic health. Will we make walking, biking, and wheeling delightful for everyone, or must we take an AV to the gym?

-Equity: Will mobility create more exquisite convenience for the privileged, or create opportunity for those with the greatest need?

Efficiency: Will we prioritize smarter management of our existing infrastructure, or just build shiny new stuff?

-Values: As we invite private entrepreneurs to profit from the public right-of-way, will we ask them to uphold the public good? If so, how to we define and measure it?”

8. John McDonald, CEO of ClearObject

“The auto industry has been steadily gaining speed with connected car platforms and machine learning assistants in today’s vehicle models. Upcoming auto releases will have more of these capabilities, allowing things like personal assistants in vehicles. Imagine your car knowing that you’re tired and directing you to the next coffee shop, then ordering and paying for your drink before you even arrive!”

9. Tom Berkovits, Head of Operations at RideOn

“The significant segment of future transportation would be urban transportation, where most of the population live. The challenge is to use the current infrastructure of the city for more efficient solutions. The efficiency will come with smaller vehicles for personal use and increasing the number of users per vehicle. In smart cities, where all vehicles are connected to a city service that will assist navigation.”

10. Gunnar Rhone, EIT, Engineer II, Highway/ITS at HNTB

“The future of transportation is a combination of new mobility options, including connected and automated vehicles, shared mobility, electrification, and smart cities.”


11. Matt Caywood, CEO of TransitScreen

“The future of transportation is something we like to refer to as Universal Basic Mobility.

The premise is this: in order to keep moving forward – literally – local governments must guarantee a minimum level of access to affordable transportation options, not as charity, but as an investment.

Micromobility (e-bikes, e-scooters, and docked bikes) is making this possible by providing an affordable solution to urban transportation and as time goes on, we will likely see much more of this.”

12. Shaun Armstrong, founder of Creditplus

“The greatest demand for increased autonomy technology will come from the private sector, in particular, large fleet operators and traveling salesman who will be able to see a direct cost-per-journey saving through increased productivity. I would expect to see a two-thirds saving for a typical urban journey.”

13. Bernie Wagenblast, Owner of Transportation Radio

“As with nearly all industries, transportation is being rapidly transformed by technology. Safety is a major concern, especially when it comes to automobiles. The National Safety Council estimates 40,000 people died in car crashes in the US in 2018. The World Health Organization says over a million died worldwide. Technology is hoped to be the way to achieve a significant decrease in this area. While fully autonomous vehicles are still years away, incremental improvements in safety are already being seen with systems such as lane departure warnings and electronic stability control. Excluding the fatal crashes of the Boeing 737 Max, airliner safety has experienced major improvements in safety and Positive Train Control is expected to improve safety on the rails.”

14. Matthew O'Riordan, CEO of Ably Realtime

“When it comes to transport delivering on promised ‘leaps forward', data infrastructure is a serious issue. 5G provides connectivity, but better integration of real-time APIs (currently a highly fragmented ecosystem of protocols) is needed if transport ‘megatrends' are to happen. For example, if London’s 2.6m vehicles become driverless, real-time infrastructure requirements (just for running cars) stand at 10,400,000,000 GB data per day and 120,370 GB per second.”

15. Mark Cann, CEO of Cryo Energy

“Division of labor is taking over the transportation industry. Battery assisted bicycles and scooters are filling in the gap between walking distance and driving distance. The future is choice. Choice between dozens of different options such as: walking, bicycles, mopeds, scooters, city cars, mini buses, subways, light rail, regional aviation, and most importantly, many of these options are complimentary so that use of one increases adoption and utilization of several others. This creates a nice feedback loop that provides alternatives to conventional cars.”

16. Madhav Durbha, Ph.D., Group Vice President, Industry 
Strategy at LLamasoft

“The future will be about smarter, connected vehicles that will bring increased automation, driving functions and safety. Today, innovative models such as “micro fulfillment centers” collocated with traditional retails stores are showing promise for omnichannel fulfillment and same day delivery– and as more models emerge, this last mile delivery will be increasingly relevant.

In addition, advances in analytics provide unprecedented visibility into the geolocation of fleets and expected times of arrival based on weather, traffic patterns, and other factors. As the electrification of fleets continues, we will see more infrastructure investments into charging stations.”

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About Sam Mire

Sam is a Market Research Analyst at Disruptor Daily. He's a trained journalist with experience in the field of disruptive technology. He’s versed in the impact that blockchain technology is having on industries of today, from healthcare to cannabis. He’s written extensively on the individuals and companies shaping the future of tech, working directly with many of them to advance their vision. Sam is known for writing work that brings value to industry professionals and the generally curious – as well as an occasional smile to the face.