The way we get around has changed enormously over the last century, thanks to the introduction and growth of the personal automobile. We drive to work, for social outings, to the grocery store… It’s unlikely that we’ve now reached the endgame in the evolution of personal transport. In fact, technological improvements are likely to change things beyond recognition once again. We’ve already seen the impact of ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft. But what other innovations might change the game in the not-too-distant future? Let’s look at the future of personal mobility.
Science fiction is replete with images of flying cars. From Blade Runner to the Jetsons to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. But, of course, the reality is that there are numerous practical obstacles to making cars fly.
For example, how would they stay in the air? Would we all have to retake our driving tests to use them? Wouldn’t personalized flight be enormously polluting?
It’s easy to be skeptical about technologies of this sort. This is the president and CEO of Hyundai’s European branch caused such a stir when he told the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ International Automotive Summit, “Yes, [flying cars] will come. Flying cars are part of our future.”
In 2019, this company pledged to invest more than a billion pounds into the technology. That is a sign that they think it stands a reasonable chance of coming good in the long term.
Electric cars as the future of personal mobility
The rollout of the electric car has brought several environmental, economic, and public-health-related advantages. A city filled with electric cars is one where the air is cleaner, there is less noise, and more energy efficiency. Electric cars are becoming cheaper year after year, too, as are the insurance and warranty policies which accompany them.
The driverless car is a technology that’s perhaps easier to visualize. The idea here is that the cars of the future would be fit with dozens of cameras and sophisticated artificial intelligence that navigated obstacles and delivers passengers to their destinations.
This advancement would likely bring huge economic advantages. It would eliminate drinking-and-driving problems, for starters.
The automated car would also provide disabled and elderly people with a degree of freedom that they haven’t enjoyed up to this point. It would also, potentially, reduce car ownership dramatically by effectively giving everyone access to a robot chauffeur.
Personal mobility as a service is the future
Since many of us only drive our cars for a short amount of time, it’s feasible that we could all pay a subscription for a taxi service. That would give us as many lifts as we like without worrying about the cost of maintaining, filling, and actually driving the vehicle.
There’s already a name for this concept. It is Mobility as a Service, or MaaS. While automated vehicles could supercharge this trend, it isn’t a requirement. Indeed, MaaS has already begun to catch on in the urban areas where it’s been rolled out.
The result, in theory, would be clear roads, a huge reduction in emissions, and (crucially) far fewer accidents.