2011 Top Ten: 8. Cooperatively owned smart cars and roads will replace dumb, individual gas guzzlers.
With 800 million cars on the planet to serve 7.8 billion people, personal transportation is a dominant force in our lives. But the emergence of car-sharing and bike-sharing schemes in urban areas in both the United States and Europe have established alternative models and markets for fractional or on-demand mobility, says MIT's Ryan C.C. Chin. He and his fellow engineers with the MIT Media Lab have designed a car system that could serve as a model for future cities. It involves small electric cars, scooters, and electric bikes--all cooperatively owned and working together. The system allows riders could bike to the grocery and drive their groceries home, solving one of the key problems that has long hurt public transportation; bus and subway stops even in dense neighborhoods are often located about a mile from a person's home and a mile from their destination.
New transportation systems are emerging that will lessen traffic congestion and accident risks. In the next decade, interstate highways will feature lanes for cars and trucks controlled by computers. Robo-cars (small vehicles completely controlled by built-in artificial intelligence) will pick up elderly and disabled people in residential areas and take them to nearby supermarkets, doctor’s appointments, and wherever else they might like to go says forecaster McKinley Conway.