Our hyper-urbanised life of the 21st century will rely heavily on urban transportation. Individual lifestyles, flexible work rhythms and unconstrained leisure time activities all encourage transportation. On top of that, think of all the cargo that needs to enter the city for us to eat, drink, work in our offices and live our private lives. That leaves no conclusion other than that the future of transportation will rely on super-intelligence in vehicles, control systems and planning tools. That was the main premise of the Dutch foresight project “Transportation of tomorrow starts today”. Let's go deeper into the super-intelligence of transport systems and find out what it could do to the future of transportation.
Super-intelligence implies that the intelligence of the system as a whole reaches higher levels, because of the integration of intelligence in all the components of the system. Intelligent vehicles, an intelligent infrastructure, intelligent control system, intelligent commuters, intelligent cargo and intelligent enablers of information. Following the Dutch foresigt study, these are the components of an intelligent transportation system.
In super-intelligent vehicles there is no need of a driver. The intelligence makes it really autonomous. Not only drives the vehicle by itself, it also responds to signals from other vehicles or the infrastructure. This is the future that Google car presents us. A partial solution where drivers could interfer, would be steering a car by using only your eyes. EyeDriver does that for you. It can drive autonomous, but can also be steered by gaze control. BrainDriver is a bit of the same concept, but then thinking about a direction is already sufficient. Driverless public transport is already very much mainstream. Think about airport shuttles and metro trains. Passenger airlines without human pilots are also a real possibility, just like the military drones.
An intelligent infrastructure communicates to other aspects of the transport system. LED’s in the road surface providing warnings about incidents, self healing concrete that enhances life span of roads and bridges, bike lanes that converts sunlight into electricity.
Intelligent control systems use real-time information to direct traffic streams and respond to vehicles and everything else in order to find solutions for traffic situations. Smart grids can communicate with vehicles to bring electricity to those cars and bikes which have the biggest need.
When cars, roads and control systems become more intelligent, the human commuter cannot stay behind. Augmented reality, like Google glass, can present alternative routes, when traffic jams are expected. The smart agents of such apps can be customized to know a person’s preferences and respond to their daily habits.
Even cargo can become more intelligent and communicate about its destination. Intelligent cargo enables packages to interact with their surroundings and make context aware decisions. In this way the planning process of cargo freight happens autonomously.
For all these forms of intelligence, processing huge amount of data is crucial. When the computational power of computer processors goes up, their will be endless new opportunities for artificial intelligence. Current ideas for augmented reality and the many other concepts discussed here, are all just waiting for the fast and tiny processors of tomorrow’s smart devices. The smart cities of the future could embrace this new technology and we might see unprecendented smooth and autonomous transportation.
Read more of our blogs at: Futurista
Essays and comments posted in World Future Society and THE FUTURIST magazine blog portion of this site are the intellectual property of the authors, who retain full responsibility for and rights to their content. For permission to publish, distribute copies, use excerpts, etc., please contact the author. The opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Future Society takes no stand on what the future will or should be like.
Free Email Newsletter
To sign up for Futurist Update, our free monthly email newsletter, enter your email in the box below and click Save.
Without the ocean Earth would be a pretty inhospitable place even though we lie within our Sun's Goldilocks Zone. Those of you who live by the ocean can probably figure out why that is the case. You see the ocean is a temperature moderator and a heat transport mechanism that evens out the climate across the planet.
The horror of 298 lives snuffed out by a missile is reverberating around the planet this week after last Thursday's downing of a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777. How could missile technology meant to shoot down warplanes get used to destroy a civilian aircraft?
I remain skeptical about the economics of industrial technologies for carbon capture. Almost every project started has been heavily subsidized by government. But for the operators without government subsidy there seems to be no return on investment. First of all, all existing industrial carbon capture technologies are expensive to implement.
On a recent driving trip, my wife and I became immersed in the audio version of one of Tom Clancy’s last novels, titled “Threat Vector.” Without giving away too much of the plot, a Chinese super-geek villain has hatched a plan to hack into our most secure networks and blackmail people with their darkest secrets to subversively cause chaos and disruption for the American government.
If you work for the post office these days then you already have an inkling of what the 21st century will do to many jobs. Texting, email, and mobile connectivity have forever altered the way we communicate. How many of us still write letters on paper and mail them?
Some of you who know me personally know that in my formative years I started studying geophysics in university before a physical accident laid me up for more than a year and I in an epiphany changed my major to Islamic Studies and Medieval History. So I was both a science and history nerd all at the same time. Well nothing has changed.
The government in South Korea is organizing its manufacturing sector along with academics and ministries to tackle and develop 3D printing as an economic opportunity. Rather than rely on the hits and misses of free enterprise, the South Korean leadership is directing all interested players within the country to come up with a roadmap that will lead to innovation in manufacturing and the creation of new jobs.
Edward Cornish has served as the World Future Society’s lead visionary, founder, first President (1966-2004), and Editor of THE FUTURIST magazine (1967-2010). Since stepping away from daily editorial management, he has remained on the WFS Board and has been our Futurist in Residence, contributing book reviews and essays on “Futurists and Their Ideas.” And he’s come to the office faithfully every day.