A convergence of automation, digitization and the shared economy could make traffic jams a thing of the past…er…present. Poor mobility isn’t just agonizing. It affects health (emissions and accidents), stunts economic growth (lost time for workers and products) and contributes to inequality. “Does everyone have the opportunity to move around, or only those who can drive themselves?” asks Cathis Elmsäter-Svärd, chair of Drive Sweden, in an interview with the World Economic Forum.
Elmsäter-Svärd envisions a fully automated, multi-form transport system, where “self-driving cars, trains and buses, cycling, walking — are seamlessly integrated by technology.” A Boston Consulting Group report suggests that a quarter of miles driven in the US in 2030 will come from cars that are autonomous, shared and electric (see, “Seven of every 10 new cars could be hybrid or electric by 2030”).
Such advance would bring less congestion, fewer deaths and cleaner air, says BCG, but “cities may also face financial hardship because of the impact on public transit.” Drive Sweden is working with cities to move towards more automated transport systems; Stockholm and Gothenburg will test digitalization and automation solutions. “We should identify the implications for every sector — environment, trade, health,” says Elmsäter-Svärd, “and look for the win-wins.”