Futurist Ray Kurtweil said in 2001, “we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress.” Given the progress we have already experienced, it is difficult to disagree with this statement.
Having now witnessed the disruptive effect of technology on all aspects of everyday life, it begs the question: What does the future of transport look like? With the rapid rate of technological change and an unprecedented level of innovation occurring within the transport sector, this is a difficult question to answer. Technology has already transformed what is possible for transport in the last ten years. Ride-sharing, contactless payments and the provision of real time information about transport services are just a few examples of how technology has reshaped the way that we access mobility.
New technology will continue to rapidly transform all modes of transport. However the unpredictability of this transformation presents challenges, and subsequently opportunities for the sector. Autonomous vehicles and new service delivery models, driven by innovative technology and supported by the sharing economy, such as on-demand transport and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) will all play a growing role in addressing the mobility challenges of the future. However, these technologies in isolation will not be the silver bullet that solves all of our problems, rather they will form part of an integrated mobility network that must also include high frequency public transport services. Experts view technology as the future of transport, but consumers are still to be convinced, with TTF research indicating that many prefer the status quo of private vehicle usage over on-demand public transport services. As governments and industry commit more time and resources to developing and implementing new technologies within the transport sector, they must also keep in mind that convenience and affordability will be the drivers of change, technology the vehicle.
There is no one answer to predicting what transport will look like in the next 10 years, let alone 100. What we do know is that change will be quick and it will be exhilarating.