On the Move: The Future of Transportation
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Sea, space or supersonic air rides, OZY brings you the future of transportation.
By Charu Sudan Kasturi
Cutting-edge transportation solutions can mean different things in different parts of the world. In places where there aren’t basic services, and cars are prohibitively expensive, reliable public transportation is a window to the future. For people who are part of more advanced economies, space travel is looking increasingly realistic. But irrespective of geography, transport and travel have inspired the imagination of mankind for centuries.
How can we travel faster and avoid traffic snarls? What would make transportation less vulnerable to errors that can lead to injuries or even death? What are the next untapped places we can travel to, and how do we stay there? What’s next for the transportation industry? These are just some of the questions about the future of transportation that this OZY original series answers, as we keep you On the Move. This is one ride you don’t want to miss.
Think of long-distance space travel, and your mind might go to Star Trek or Star Wars. But the reality is actually more organic. An increasing number of architects, artists and designers are building spaceships that, almost like organisms, will rely on biological and evolutionary strategies to adapt to changing conditions (e.g., increasing radiation, constant impacts from debris) in order to float around in space for generations. The future of space travel could hinge on their success, or failure.
Jakarta is a web of clogged roads; last year it was ranked the most congested city in the world by Castrol’s Stop-Start index, which uses GPS satellites to track the number of times vehicles need to stop. That ranking might be changing. After years of false starts, the city is ready to unveil a rail-based mass rapid transit (MRT) system that will eventually stretch across 67 miles of the metropolitan area and that is expected to carry more than 1 million people every day. Late last year, the city also launched a light rail (LRT) system expected to cost $4 billion, which will connect the city center to Jakarta’s suburbs. The city’s bus rapid transit system, which launched in 2004 with just one line, is expanding, with two new lines expected to open alongside the MRT and LRT.
From the U.S. to Norway, researchers, tech firms and maritime companies are investing in and testing autonomous ships for trade, amid a growing consensus that such ships are the future of maritime shipping. In the Netherlands late last year, 20 maritime businesses formed a consortium to study and demonstrate the potential of autonomous maritime transport. In theory, ships manned and monitored autonomously suffer from lower risk of human errors, and would thereby offer greater safety. But what happens when unplanned scenarios crop up and critical decisions have to be made?
Riding on the acquisition of struggling foreign brands and vast amounts of state investment, China is abandoning its reputation for reverse engineering to emerge a leading innovator in the auto and transportation industries, fast catching up with the West. From mass-produced driverless buses and 3D-printed cars to manned and unmanned flying taxis and an explosion in demand for clean energy vehicles, China is shaping the future of transportation. In the process, the world’s second-largest economy is also opening up its auto industry in ways it never has until now, relaxing rules to encourage more investment and cooperation between Chinese and foreign companies in the sector.
- Charu Sudan Kasturi, OZY Author Contact Charu Sudan Kasturi