I’ve written a few times over the past couple of years about some innovative attempts to free up the congestion in our cities.
I wrote about the Finnish venture Kutsuplus a few years ago for instance. Kutsuplus is the Finnish capitals mass transit hybrid system, and it has innovated by letting riders both choose their own routes AND summon their own buses.
Here’s how it works. You access the official Kutsuplus app on your phone, from which you can summon a Kutsuplus bus to your stop (within a 10 minute lead time). The bus that arrives will seat at least nine people and comes with space for baby carriages and bicycles.
Shift is another service that is taking its own stance on the problem. They’re an app based service that aims to give travelers access to the right vehicle for their journey within minutes.
Users plug in the trip they wish to make, and the app uses its algorithm to figure out the best form of transport for the job. Once the vehicle has been selected, the user picks it up from the various Shift stations in that city (or alternatively it can be driven out to the user).
The service operates via a membership scheme whereby users have access to various kinds of vehicle depending on their membership level. For instance, $25 a month gets you access to Shift’s fleet of bicycles.
A driverless future
Of course, whilst those things are disruptive enough, they do all still require someone to drive the vehicle you’re going about on.
A recent report by the OECD highlights how the future may be both shared and driverless.
It suggests that widespread use of what it calls taxibots could reduce the number of cars required to perform our daily travels by 90 percent.
The study saw Lisbon used to simulate how shared and automated vehicles could impact traffic flow in a major city. The study found that even if you only have a single passenger in each vehicle, the total number of cars on the road network falls by 77 percent.
What’s more, they believe that adopting such a system would also free up enormous chunks of real estate currently used for parking. They estimate in Lisbon alone that this would free up around 200 football pitches worth of land.
Of course, the paper doesn’t touch on the numerous societal and technological issues that would need to be overcome in order to arrive at such a future.
If the numerous challenges emerging around Uber like services are any indication, the road to a driverless future will be something of a rocky one.