Last November, I was part of a charrette at the Institute without boundaries that was asked to "Imagine a new sustainable mobility vehicle and a new future for the automobile-manufacturing sector beyond the car." It was one of the most inspiring exercises I ever participated in, watching industry experts, talented designers and incredibly talented students putting together not just a vehicle design but an entire system of transportation. Now it has gone from drawing to model, and is on exhibit at MOVE- the Transportation Expo at the Brickworks in Toronto.
The key points about the system (covered in greater detail in my earlier post) were:
- In 2040, the car will be shared.
- In 2040, the car will be a lot lighter and smaller.
- In 2040, the car won't run on fossil fuels.
- In 2040, the car will be completely autonomous.
The implications of shared, autonomous cars are huge, the single biggest one is that 90% of them become unnecessary, since we are no longer parking them; they just go away and serve someone else. Even if they travel more slowly, you will get to your destination more quickly, because they won't have to stop at traffic lights; they will just flow through each other's streams of traffic at intersections.
Designer Miles Keller describes the concept, now known as PAT (People and things):
The entire vehicle would be made out of composites, ala the Boeing Dreamliner, and for the reason: weight is enemy! Very important when you're carrying heavy batteries and you're trying to minimize the volume of the mechanical components. The windows are all intended to be a touch sensitive LCD glass matrix.
I particularly liked the idea of the smart seats; since you are not driving, they can adjust to let you lie down and watch a movie on the LCD wall, or sit up and enjoy a martini on the drive home from work.
No martini configuration in the finished display, however.
The PAT vehicles can be ganged together end to end, train-like for longer distance travel, or side by side if you are travelling together.
There are many who will say "get a bike" and that this is all pie in the sky. I thought the same thing at the start of the charrette in November. In the end, I was convinced that all of the components necessary to do this exist, that it actually makes a lot of sense, and that there was a well thought out transition from our current way of getting around in 2012 to this vision for 2040. It is clever stuff at MOVE: The Transportation Expo