The economic losses associated with traffic congestion are estimated to reach $180 billion during the period of 2014 to 2030. Does this seem alarming?
Since we are discussing this in 2019, let’s agree to this narrative that we cannot have trucks, cars, and bicycles all on one road, at the same time. Congestion, stop signs, lane shifts, and multiple other variables make it really hard to solve many problems for the cities we aim to see in the future. The huge number of vehicles in cities are causing a great deal of economic damage and on a personal level, a great loss of time. The annual cost estimation of traffic congestion in the United States has exceeded $100 billion and estimated to reach $180 billion by 2030. If the total number of cars continues to drive at its projected pace, we will not have a chance at limiting global warming, even if those cars are electric. World Resource Institute (WRI) suggested an Avoid-Shift-Improve framework to solve the problem with three pathways.
According to the American Automobile Association, Americans spend an average of 17,600 minutes driving each year. In other words, every driver in the U.S. spends almost an hour each day in his or her car – commuting, driving to shops or going on vacation. There are 1.2 billion vehicles running in the world. Just for a moment, imagine the space these cars are occupying even when they are parked, which can be used for a multitude of other things. That’s not all. All these vehicles cause emissions, smog, noise pollution, and life-threatening accidents as well. An estimate says that 1.25 million people die every year as a result of road accidents which are apparently caused by “human error”.
Why does the future of mobility matter?
As urbanization spreads, the demand for better mobility will multiply infinitely. All the major cities in the world have alternatives that are effective. efficient and environmental-friendly too. From a birds-eye view, this problem looks terrifying, but even as you get closer you realize that the auto-industry alone impacts almost every facet of the U.S. economy.
According to Deloitte insights, the Automotive industry brings $735B revenue to the table and Transportation services, which also include rental cars, add another $59B to the revenue. The entire auto industry represents $2 trillion in revenue, which is more than 10% of the entire GDP. The industry has given employment to a total of 10.8 million people in 2015, which also includes motor vehicle operators. And these figures don’t even include the additional jobs that rely heavily on the transportation system, such as warehouse workers, public works employees, delivery services, and those who provide ride shares. With these stats, we can easily see that the future of mobility can affect nearly everyone who commutes to and from work and almost every other person too.
Shared, owned or public?
Even after replacing all the cars with autonomous vehicles, the situation will not change overnight. While reducing the number of vehicles by sharing an autonomous vehicle is key, the concept should not be restricted or limited to ride shares like Uber or Lyft. State or cities should offer new services that make accessing mass transit easier for people, such as on-demand autonomous shuttles and their designated driving pathways so they occupy much less space than cars owned by those 200 passengers.
What does the future look like?
As much as it looks crowded, it also looks bright with innovative ideas. New traffic and transport concepts are emerging to solve the problem on a much wider scale. Connected autonomous cars, air taxis and ‘boring’ tunnels, just to name a few.
Connected Autonomous Cars and their impact
If there is any viable solution to have Intelligent real-time traffic system, it is connected to autonomous cars. They enable efficient and real-time traffic management and can reduce traffic congestion drastically. Human errors can also be reduced because autonomous cars make fewer mistakes than humans and also do not drive (or drink) recklessly. Their better speed and driving patterns can reduce the emission problem.
The future with connected autonomous cars can also create unlimited possibilities for senior citizens and physically disabled people. “Blind and visually impaired people could benefit from travel options that were previously unimaginable,” says Sue Sharp from the Royal Society for Blind Children in the UK. “Imagine how liberating it would be for an 18-year-old blind man to be able to drive to meet his girlfriend instead of having his mother take him there.”
Another futuristic advantage is the commute time to and from work. Boston Consulting Group estimates that connected cars can reduce travel time in urban cities by up to 33%. Another future mobility trend, an electric drive system, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the air quality in many cities worldwide.
That’s not all. With smart and audio-enabled devices as well as mobile internet connections everywhere, connected cars are quickly gaining prominence as an exciting touchpoint of the post-web era. The future cars are now the foundation of an era where drivers can interact with brands and retailers through voice and expect instant results – why wait until reaching my destination when I can be served right now?