By Brian Birch
The future of transportation is in flux, and already we are seeing large shifts in how traffic and people flow through urban areas. Ride sharing is all the rage, with Uber and Lyft beginning to take business away from taxis and car rentals. This trend is starting to expand beyond ride sharing to include sharing platforms for cars (Zipcar, car2go, Enterprise CarShare) and bicycles.
Michael Klein, CAPP, owner of Klein & Associates and a former board member of the International Parking Institute, says how the world thinks about transportation will be completely reshaped over the next 20 years.
“Do you need 270 million cars? Today there is almost one car per person and three parking spaces for every car. The investments in parking and cars are set on a technology platform that is changing with the autonomous, shared-use economy,” he explains.
The sharing economy is focused on a business model, but researchers are at work that may one day forever change how (or if) we drive at all.
Carmakers worldwide are working to develop the ultimate “connected” car with features like safety sensors, advanced driver-assistance systems, smartphone integration, etc. It’s possible that someday rather than buying a new car you’ll just update its software, much like your smartphone.
Most of the attention, though, is on the move toward autonomous cars. Tesla and Google have vehicles and software that have successfully navigated millions of miles of automated or semi-automated driving; and as of October 2016 all Tesla cars have self-driving hardware. States like Ohio are investing millions to serve as testing grounds for autonomous and connected vehicles. Most experts predict autonomous vehicles will reduce congestion and accidents by mitigating the human element.
Fully autonomous vehicles aren’t likely to be commercially available before 2020; and there is a lot of regulation and troubleshooting (cyber attacks, anyone?) that must be resolved before these cars could become reality.
“We’re not headed toward George Jetson’s flying cars,” Klein says. “Cars won’t be eliminated, but the concept of the car and how it serves us over time will change.”
While people currently have their minds on autonomous cars, it’s likely that service sectors will also embrace this technology. Think fleet delivery service, garbage removal, taxis…and yes, even snow removal.
Both ride sharing and autonomous cars will impact urban planning and design and mobility, which will directly impact those in the our industry. Can you imagine trying to service a site while dodging automated vehicles pulling to the curb to pick up their owners?
“As programs improve, we envision not having a person driving the removal device but it will function autonomously with safeguards. It’s a very viable alternative in the future that could remove jobs from the working class,” Klein says.
$155.9 million - Forecasted connected car revenues (including safety, autonomous driving and connected services) in 2022 compared to $52.5 billion forecasted in 2017, a 24.3% compounded annual growth rate (www.strategyand.pwc.com
Autonomous snow removal vehicle
Yeti Snow Technology, jointly owned by Semcon and Øveraasen, has signed a cooperation agreement with a Norwegian airport operator to develop a self-driving snow removal vehicle. A full-scale pilot will be test run in March 2018. The project will be the first in the world where large vehicles are adapted to autonomously handle the task of keeping runways clear from snow. “An airport is like a miniature society with clear and ambitious targets for the business. If we can get self-driving vehicles to operate there, we can apply the technology to any field whatsoever,” says Semcon Devotek General Manager Hans Peter Havdal.
Ride sharing: The Millennial impact
A 2014 report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that young people were driving less, driving shorter distances and using more transit, biking and walking to get around. And while naysayers attributed this trend to the global recession and high oil prices, ongoing studies show young people are buying fewer cars and getting fewer drivers’ licenses than ever before.
$42 billion = Projected revenue of Uber by 2025 (Frost & Sullivan).
Two-wheel transit: Bike-sharing programs
According to an April 2016 U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation report, 46 bike share systems in the United States offer a total of 2,655 bike share stations in 65 cities. Chicago, Washington, DC, and New York City each have at least 300 stations, primarily near public transportation stops. Riders have taken over 36 million bike-share trips.
Brian Birch is SIMA Chief Operating Officer. Contact him at Brian@sima.org.