Fair Share: Future Transportation

Alison Griswold | SOM

Our cultural imagination of the future invariably involves something floating, flying, or hovering. The Jetsons have their aerocar, Han Solo pilots the Millennium Falcon, and the humans in Wall-E sit around in squishy floating armchairs. These transportation fantasies have permeated Silicon Valley as well. Google co-founder Larry Page and ride-hail firm Uber are working on flying cars. Elon Musk is developing his frictionless hyperloop. In 2016, Domino’s achieved the distinction of becoming the first company in the world to have a drone deliver a pizza.

Closer to ground, but still far flung in our imagination, is the era of truly autonomous cars that companies from San Francisco to Detroit to Gothenburg are working toward. The most advanced of these vehicles are already traversing public roads around the world, some with humans as cargo, and it’s only a matter of time before robots replace people as routine motor-vehicle operators on streets and highways.

And yet, despite the fervor for things that fly and drive themselves, the transportation ideas currently generating the most excitement are modern twists on old ways of getting around. Electric bikes. Electric scooters. Shared rides. Shared cars. The future of transportation as we experience it—the important and pragmatic changes that affect our daily lives—could end up looking a lot more like the past.

Full content is available only for registered users. Please login or Register