Inside your automated car of the future, you’ll be able to do anything that you currently do at home.
There will be toilets, reclining chairs, huge monitor displays, vanities, a small wardrobe, even mini laundry machines in the luxury models.
An indoor putting green. House plants. A canary.
Your automated car will essentially be a smaller, mobile extension of your home.
There are 2 current-day analogies which really exemplify what will happen:
- Look at how multi-purpose mobile phones have overtaken—and often replaced—land-line telephones.
- Look at how laptops have replaced desktop computers.
The same thing will happen with homes. Some people—likely college kids and twenty-somethings who can’t afford a brick & mortar home, or have no need for one—will live entirely out of their automated vehicle. It will be similar to how the younger and lower-income demographics were some of the first to abandon land-line telephones.
Maybe they’ll consider everywhere to be their home, much the same way freelancers armed with laptops can now consider the coffeeshop a perfectly acceptable “office”.
And for the people with brick & mortar homes and automated cars?
There will evolve a smooth transition between car and home.
To extend the phone analogy, this would be like call forwarding from your home phone to your cell phone.
Your automated car will be able to easily integrate into your house. No need to walk outside in freezing weather at 6am; ideally, the car will inhabit a wall of your living room. By default it will be opened up and part of the house’s interior. When you depart inside your car, it will encapsulate you and the wall of the house will close behind you.
I imagine this would happen most prominently with apartments, where space and short distance from residence to car are commodities.
Residential parking lots that we see in apartment complexes, therefore, would begin to become obsolete.
I see no reason that automated cars can’t evolve to climb the sides of apartment buildings and open up into residences as well.
Each residential building would be connected directly to a roadway. A high-tech, automated transportation grid will connect every residence for computer-calculated, fluid, efficient travel.
Probably developing as a better alternative to elevators, the wall-climbing feature of automated cars will certainly be in high demand—because in the future, more people will reside in apartments than do now. Stand-alone homes will be reserved for the wealthy.
Why I think Cities Will Grow Up Instead of Sideways
Nanotechnology is empowering us to develop stronger, lighter building materials which will allow us to engineer far taller buildings than anything we have today. New York City, therefore, may be able to hold 30 million people (today it’s 8.2 million) without growing much in girth.
I believe the natural inclination for most city-dwellers is to be in the heart of the action, close to work and nightlife. Therefore, when greater technology permits it, more of us will prefer taller and taller skyscrapers over suburban housing outside the city.
A Sidenote On Overpopulation
It seems to me that when contemplating the future, people tend to fear overpopulation. But I don’t think overpopulation will cause any catastrophic physical problems. Cities will grow to fit our needs. They’ll continue to grow – upwards.
Nor will overpopulation cause food problems. Another blog for another day.
The biggest problem arising from overpopulation, in fact, may be getting rid of organic and synthetic waste quick enough. Because the 30 million people living in concentration in NYC will generate a lot more waste per acre than today’s measly 8.2 million. Also another blog for another day. 🙂
Growing vertically may free up space horizontally.
What all this means in the context of automated travel is that we will be traveling for different reasons than we do today. One of the big reasons will be entertainment.
Imagine massive arenas and entertainment hubs, establishments so huge—twenty, fifty times the size of any Vegas casino—that they are communities with their own cultures. They would be self-sustaining, more like towns inside the heart of the city than malls or casinos.
Perhaps one of the most exciting thing about automated cars is how they will revolutionize public transportation.
In the long run, when virtual reality becomes the norm, long-distance travel in personal vehicles may, like brick & mortar homes, be reserved for the wealthy.
In fact, it appears to me that much of the middle class won’t have their own vehicles. Instead they’ll rely on a robust public transportation system, a network of hundreds of thousands of automated cars swarming around the city like ants. The middle class traveler will always have an automated car less than a few minutes away—awaiting his/her beck and call like a faithful dog.
You may wait in line at your neighborhood’s “car stop”. It could be a service you pay for monthly, the way you pay for tap water or the internet, or it could (eventually) be a free public service.
The cars would pick up on the particular behavioral signature of your neighborhood—for example, that its inhabitants tend to travel 27% more on Tuesdays—and would compensate by having more vehicles available on peak hours and peak days.
The next post will tackle design and technology behind autonomous vehicles. It’s a biggie, and includes another infographic. Read on…
Read the next post →
Driverless Cars (Part 5/6): Design & Technology of Autonomous Vehicles of the Future
Start from the beginning →
Driverless Cars (Part 1/6): Google’s Cars Will Change Everything