From self-driving cars to streetlight sensors, The Guardian highlights some of the ambitious ideas for transforming city transportation.
Autonomous cars are the standout technology that everyone has heard of and eagerly awaits. From standard four-passenger cars to shuttle buses, these could reinvent how commuters travel around cities. It could also prompt councils to consider whether they still need huge plots of land for national car parks.
Driverless cars have already been trialled in Bristol and Gloucestershire and look like they are on the verge of becoming a reality. However, these vehicles do have one potential downside in that people could end up preferring self-driving cars to buses and trains, leading to more cars clogging up the city streets.
Self-driving cars won’t work without sensors, particularly ones that monitor and track a vehicle’s position relative to other vehicles on the road, and those that spot humans and other potential hazards.
Sensors can be embedded into roads and traffic signs that collect a colossal amount of data and can be used to help plan journeys more efficiently. They can also help manage traffic flow by adjusting the length and frequency of traffic signals and save energy by dimming streetlights when no one is around.
However, currently sensors are expensive to install, but their prices should begin to drop when demand for them increases.
Cities could soon offer information about traffic and public transport services via free Internet access, which could come complete with charging ports for USB devices. New York City has already rolled out a similar programme using a number of these interactive kiosks, which replaced phone booths, as part of its LinkNYCProgramme.
These types of Internet-enabled kiosks would make transport data accessible for those without access to mobile phones or Internet at home. Examples of this technology have already begun to appear on UK streets with electronic bus timetable displays and live traffic updates available online.
Perhaps the most mundane but critical aspect of smart transportation technologies regards payments. Convenient payment systems can help improve the overall commuting experience, by reducing delays and tracking transactions. In addition, smart systems allow for one singular method of payment. Commuters already use their smartphones to check timetables and call taxis, so why not be able to pay for it there and then too?
Apps such as this already play a huge role in transport, such as using your smartphone to scan your bus ticket, or Android and Apple pay to access tube transport in London. What needs to be created in the future is one streamlined app to plan, book and pay for journeys all at the push of a button.