We've been promised self-driving cars, and we've seen driverless Teslas and other experiments pop up in our news feeds. But how soon can we expect autonomous vehicles and other transportation-centric tech developments to arrive on a mass scale?
Thes industry insiders shared with us a realistic barometer for the future of transportation through a tech lens. Here's what they said:
1. Susan Shaheen, Ph.D., Co-Director of the Transportation Sustainability Resource Center at UC-Berkeley
“Vehicle automation has the potential to re-imagine public transportation as we know it today. Right-sized, automated public transit vehicles have the opportunity to reduce the operating costs of public transportation. These savings could be passed onto riders in the form of increased service (more routes and reduced service headways) as well as lower and more equitable fares. Increased service and lower fares could make public transit more competitive than other modes and result in increased ridership.”
2. Jeff Tumlin, Principal at Nelson/Nygaard and Author of Sustainable Transportation Planning
“Cellphones + Open APIs + Mobility Wallets. Just as the FCC manages the airwaves to promote innovation, competition, profit, and the public good, so must cities manage their streets. Cities and transit agencies must become mobility managers, helping us get the most from our limited street rights-of-way. This means open APIs for payment and trip routing, public mobility wallets, space-efficiency fees for wasteful use of streets, and equity rebates to correct for those left behind by technology changes. Why should it cost me $5 a day for six square feet on the bus, when I can drive my 2500 square foot AV RV downtown for free?”
3. Tom Berkovits, Head of Operations at RideOn
“The technology that will have the biggest impact is the 5G and edge computing network. This technology will allow small platforms to perform more safety, more efficient, and smarter than ever.”
4. Alex Nesic, co-founder & CBO at CLEVR Mobility
“While everyone is distracted by the shiny object that is Autonomous Vehicle technology, I believe that intelligent LEVs are positioned to be much more impactful. The most important element is a more accurate GPS asset tracking module that can be used on LEVs. Once greater reliable accuracy is achieved, then a variety of things can follow – intelligent control, finite geofencing, interactive speed caps, autonomous rebalancing & parking, proactive regulatory compliance, and more. The LEV industry will, in my view, have to be regulated much more like the consumer drone industry is by the FAA for example and the only way that becomes possible is with accurate positioning and network control. Lastly, LEVs are primarily seen as mobility, but they also have tremendous potential to host and disperse additional technology. As connected batteries on wheels, they can be outfitted with any number of data collection sensors or bluetooth and near field technologies that can fit nicely into the larger smart city eco-system.”
5. Matt Caywood, CEO of TransitScreen
“TransitScreen's technology is having a major impact in the transportation space — TransitScreen wants to make getting around cities easier and more sustainable. Our software shows all nearby transportation options for a given location: traditional public transit such as bus and subway, plus newer mobility options such as Uber and Lyft, electric scooters, and more. We work with corporate workplaces and multifamily apartment buildings across the country to provide a
6. Sara Schaer, founder and CEO of Kango, ridesharing for kids
“Autonomous vehicles. Ridesharing will definitely be affected by the spread of
autonomous/self-driving vehicles, and by new types of mobility networks that
connect vehicles and services with people who need them, when they need them.”
7. Eric Simone, CEO of Clearblade
“Driverless vehicles will mean roadways that are designed differently, with a reduced footprint, narrower right of way and no need for visual cues like road striping or traffic lights. The biggest impediment to driverless vehicles is government. They’re not ready for this. The technology’s there, but then you’ve got to get all these different constituencies working together, and that’s what I think is a bigger barrier.
You’re going to have government. You’re going to have interested parties, like insurance companies, that are going to be against moving so fast. It’s going to take some time. The technology could happen within the next 10 years. But I highly doubt it because of bureaucracy.”
8. Bernie Wagenblast, Owner of Transportation Radio
“It's difficult to pick one technology as having the biggest impact but I would say communication technology is the one I would select. Nearly all of the technological improvements that are happening and that are planned require communication between vehicles and between vehicles and infrastructure. The 5G technology being rolled out will allow vehicles to more quickly communicate between each other and the surrounding infrastructure. One major challenge is allocating spectrum for all of the potential communications technology. There are competing uses, particularly the expansion of broadband coverage to rural areas, and a strong case can be made for allocating the limited spectrum to each.
Without this communication technology in place, many of the benefits of intelligent transportation systems won't be realized. Not only will safety be improved, but these communication technologies will also allow increased capacity. For example transit trains can travel closer to each other.
These issues transcend national borders since vehicles often do. Therefore international cooperation is required to achieve the full potential of these communication technologies.”
9. Mark Cann, CEO of Cryo Energy
“Any long term technology based solution for transportation needs to meet two key requirements: the solution needs to be rapidly scalable without requiring the physical extraction of materials and its needs to be a full closed cycle relative to emissions. The use of Cryogens (Liquid Air/Nitrogen) and Synthetic derived fuels meets these key criteria. Cryogens are perfect for local and regional ground transportation while synfuels are able to power flight, sea, rail, and long haul trucking. You can't have a functioning society without the use case that were just listed. No other know solutions are able to quickly transition all our transportation needs over to zero emissions while also not requiring ANY raw materials to be extracted.”
10. Etienne Deffarges, Author of Untangling the USA: The Cost of Complexity
“Maglev technology: Electric Maglev trains “glide” electromagnetically, with no contact between track and vehicles, and are very energy efficient; they already reach 267 mph in commercial service to Shanghai airport; Japan is building a new 180 miles Tokyo to Nagoya line, with a projected 40 minutes transit time at 315mph by 2027. Maglev rights of way are easier to get than for conventional rail—Maglev tracks can easily fit above an existing freeway. Elon Musk, today's most impactful entrepreneur, is betting on Maglev technology with his new Boring Company, which aims to offer an alternative to congested urban transit.”
11. Juan Rodriguez, co-founder and CEO of FlashParking
“The influx of electric vehicles—not just cars but also micro-mobility—has been and will continue to be a driving force in the industry. In the last few years, advancements in battery efficiency and affordability have grown the popularity of vehicles and made low-cost micro-mobility a reality. The challenge we’re facing now is charging capacity; most garages today don’t have the electrical infrastructures to support the growing demand for charging. That’s why when someone building a structure, like a mobility hub, asks me “what’s the one thing I should do?”, I say load it up with much electrical power as possible.”
12. Madhav Durbha, Ph.D., Group Vice President, Industry
Strategy at LLamasoft
“As omnichannel shipments increase in volume and stops, and the Uberization of trucking continues, supply chain design will hold a key impact– and routes need to be more dynamically optimized in light of multiple pickups and drop-offs. The placement of production and warehouse facilities and sourcing strategies will have significant implications on both shipping costs and service levers– and Cost to Serve based optimization, or trading off transportation costs against other supply chain costs with the goal of meeting overall business objectives, will take hold.”
13. Richard Reina, Product Training Director at CARiD
“The technology available in our cars has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years. While entertainment and navigation features are cool and fun, the most important are semi-autonomous safety technologies. Some of the most important include collision/blind spot warning systems and automatic braking. These features come standard in many new cars today and, based on consumer demand and widespread adoption, it’s safe to say that they’ll continue to impact how cars are designed and how drivers get around.”
14. Eugene Tsyrklevich, Founder & CEO, Parkopedia
“Environments such as retirement villages and car parks have seen the most success in autonomous (self-driving) cars. Recent research by Parkopedia shows that as of today, a quarter of drivers would be prepared to pay extra for their car to be able to park autonomously, allowing the driver to exit the vehicle at their final destination or car park entrance. As the number of autonomous vehicles on the road increases, road, curb and parking management will have to evolve to facilitate high levels of autonomous interactions. Will we see a time when the driving test is obsolete?”
15. Gunnar Rhone, EIT, Engineer II, Highway/ITS at HNTB
“The most promising emerging technology for the transportation industry right now is 5G. Currently, connected vehicle communications is done through DSRC, but 5G could change the way that vehicles communicate with their surroundings by creating a lower latency C-V2X.”
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