31 July 2018

The future of autonomous travel is not just about cars

The future of travel will not just be autonomous cars. It will also include autonomous trains, planes, quad copters or ships. Human driven transport will also play a role as autonomous travel combines with bicycles, walking and beyond.

For instance on a recent ride with a mobility service provider the first part of my trip went along quickly until we met standstill traffic. With only a quarter of a mile left in the trip I decided to walk and I arrived much sooner than if I had stayed in the car. In this case the optimal time efficient combination was car plus walking. It would be great if multimode travel like this could be planned out ahead of time in a single convenient app. An app that allows for the combination of everything from walking and bicycling to automated and non-automated modes of public and private land, rail and air transport.

Overall cost improvements can also be gained when multi-mode travel includes lower cost travel modes such as subways, trains, buses, rental bikes, etc. The optimal multi-mode travel combination will vary depending on distance or time requirements. For distances over 500 miles a combination may include the Hyperloop. As distances decrease, combinations with a high-speed chains of autonomous cars will be more efficient and for even shorter distance, bicycles or even walking may be part of a multi-mode journey.

This type of multi-mode transport poses new challenges as resources of multiple mobility providers and public transit services must be managed together. Complexity is further increased as consumer willingness to pay, preferences for reduced travel time, demands for greener routing all add to the number of potential travel mode combinations.

Air travel could be part of a mobility service and autonomous travel combination

Including air transport in multi-mode travel helps eliminate autonomous navigation issues found on surface streets which are complicated by unpredictable scenarios that could involve animals, pedestrians, construction or unexpected debris on roads. These land-based problematic issues are significant, as the time to avoid an accident on city streets or highways requires split second recognition and response. Autonomous aircraft have been flying for many years as air-based navigation allows for greater avoidance response time with no concerns for pedestrians or other land-based obstacles. The advantages of air taxis in congested urban areas is already being demonstrated by Airbus’ subsidiary Voom, which offers a helicopter mobility service as an alternative to sitting in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s rush hour traffic. Driving 30 kilometers to the airport takes nine minutes and costs $150, in comparison to a traditional taxi on clogged roads that costs only $50 but takes an hour-and-a-half in frustrating stop-and-go traffic.

In the future when you are getting ready to go from point A to B, the way you get there may be as big a surprise as what you find at your destination, depending on what matters most to you, time, cost, or just having a great view out the window.

Links for further reading:

The Future Car: Driving a Lifestyle Revolution Whitepaper

Relinquishing Your Right to Drive to the Future Car

How Your Life Will Change When the Future Car Hits the Road

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