Allow me to illustrate a potential change within our current mobility pattern. In the future we will no longer speak of private or company vehicles; the so-called Belgian ‘salary vehicles’ will no longer exist, and SUV’s will be out of the question. Designing a car – think of picking a pretty color, some nice rims, the fabric for the car seat upholstery, bumpers, turn signals in side mirrors and so on – will completely be erased from our memory. A car on our driveway or in our garage will become part of the past. Owning a car will become what smoking is today: marginalized.
“Being mobile” will take on a new meaning: your demand for transportation will entirely become someone else’s business. The market for transportation will consist of a few large providers that try to respond to the demand for mobility as efficiently as possible. Those providers will have self-driving, autonomous cars at their disposal, which they employ to transport their clients.
Saturday morning, May 10, 2045
In the morning you get up and you go to the bakery. Normally you would take your bike, but given the fact that it rains, you open your mobility app and order a vehicle on demand. Shortly afterwards, a vehicle arrives at your door and you hop on. At the bakery, the vehicle will wait at the entrance while you buy some fresh bread. After your purchase you hop back on the vehicle and it takes you home, safe and sound. On the way, you check your social media and read the daily news. Back at home you prepare the table and you and your family enjoy a fresh breakfast.
"Normally you would take your bike, but given the fact that it rains, you open your mobility app and order a vehicle on demand."
After this treat, you and your partner discuss the grocery list for the week. Of course, you will no longer be doing these groceries yourself – as you did in 2017 – but they are delivered at your home, when you need them. As a result, your fridge is filled at all times, even when you are not at home. Having finished the grocery list, you and your partner fill in another list: the one with the transportations needed next week. If possible, you make your way by foot or by bike, but if the distance is too large, you invariably opt for the vehicle.
"Having finished the grocery list, you and your partner fill in another list: the one with the transportations needed next week."
After this planning and looking ahead, you start working in your garden. The garden bench has to be polished urgently and it also needs a bit of paint to look good for summer. First you drop by the local DIY shop to buy the right sandpaper and paint. You order a vehicle and on your way to the DIY shop, you look up the needed supplies for your task. While you polish and paint, your partner and the children visit the family. This trip is also ordered through your mobility app and a vehicle arrives to pick up your partner and children. The vehicle takes care of the journey, while your partner and children discuss the week and the corresponding mobility needs.
In the evening, your sister-in-law comes over to take care of the children, while you and your partner go out with some friends for dinner. At the agreed time you all arrive at the agreed location, although in separate cars. You, your partner and your friends enjoy the food, the drinks and the good atmosphere. While ordering dessert, you activate your mobility app and order the ride home. You say goodbye to your friends, after which two different cars will conveniently take everyone home.
"For every family member a vehicle is waiting outside at the indicated time, to take each of you to the indicated destination."
After the weekend, the workweek starts again. Every family member has a different destination on Monday morning. You have to get into town, while your partner is working in a village nearby. The children have to go to elementary and high school. For every family member a vehicle is waiting outside at the indicated time, to take each of you to the indicated destination.
"After school, the children will each be picked up by a vehicle and then taken to music class and soccer practice."
The children text their friends on their way to school, while you rehearse your presentation of the annual sales figures. Your partner is finetuning the schedule of destinations and times for the family members next week. After school, the children will each be picked up by a vehicle and then taken to music class and soccer practice. When both extracurricular activities have ended, they will be picked up and brought home. Here, you and your partner are enjoying a glass of wine, while preparing the table. The food is – just like any other night – prepared by the both of you.
Many advantages to expect
A mobility pattern in which self-driving cars play a central role thus offers many advantages. We will become more flexible, since we will no longer be dependent on the number of cars we own. We can use our travelling time more efficiently. Travel will be more relaxed, because we do not need to pay attention to traffic ourselves. Getting gas and fixing the car are activities that you will no longer have to undertake yourself. However, if and how fast this new mobility pattern will develop itself depends on technology and the flexibility of our society. In any event: such mobility developments can have many positive consequences.
Read our next blog on future mobility as well, in which we discuss some limitations of the illustrated mobility pattern. Do autonomous vehicles appeal to you and why? Which possible obstacles do you see? Let me know.