The Future of Transportation

The future is always an interesting topic.  Unlike discussing the weather, asking someone the open question of “what will the future be like” gives you an idea of their interests and how they perceive their place in the world today.

I often think about transportation.  It has an immense weight on all decisions in my life: where I live, where I work, how I get to work, how much of my salary goes to traveling expenses, the activities I do outside of work and so on.  Working in a city and living in its suburbs provides the opportunity to sit on a train, often delayed, and to think about a better way to get to work.

I have become a huge fan of ride sharing, such as Uber and Lyft.  I’m now frustrated with traditional taxi services and their old ways.  Uber et al. are clearly the future, for now at least.  Ultimately cars will be driverless and current ride sharing apps will provide the method for people to get to places.  Professional drivers will be a vestige of the 20th century, much like Victorian butlers.

However, that future is still a decade or two away.  In the meantime, I see the growth of numerous ride sharing services based on subcultures.  For example, a ride sharing service that is heavily focused on the hip hop community, providing cars with deep bass stereo systems and drivers who share an affinity for the music.  Or a Christian ride sharing service that has drivers ready to converse on theology.  Someone would certainly be a fan.

Ride sharing will become a very serious challenge to public transportation.  In a book I often give out, Bloomberg by Bloomberg, Mike Bloomberg tells of hearing someone say that if train companies understood they were in the transportation business rather than the train business, they would still be profitable today.  Same goes for public and private buses, commuter trains and the related.  Competition from ride sharing apps will shake up the current transportation model.

Perhaps the biggest innovation is routing, something that many of us take for advantage today.  Google is the contemporary version of the 17th century Dutch map makers, providing us with maps of practically everywhere.  Getting to your destination is routed for you with layers upon layers of innovation helping you along: traffic, weather, construction, road conditions.  

Political forces often interrupt innovation rather than stop it.  And this is a good thing because innovation focuses on specific problems; politicians are there to work with what the public deems good.  The USA has the advantage of strong state legislature freedom.  Some states are already experimenting with driverless cars on their roads and their success will surely be replicated on the national level.  

Being the father of young children, with the oldest being 13 years from driving, I wonder what driving will look when they do get behind the wheel in 2030.  I doubt I will teach them how to drive a manual transmission.  I hope state governments legislate for safe driverless cars.  If so, my kids will likely not need to drive themselves.  Drunk driving will substantially decrease.  Sitting in a car will be like sitting at home, with the power of the internet right there.  And perhaps they’ll drop the driverless part of driverless cars, much like we no longer call them horseless carriages.

Andre Preoteasa is the founder and CEO of Drinks Technology, the first and only IT services company for the beverage alcohol industry. He’s a technologist into everything from blockchain to big data to snapchat filters. New Jersey resident with two young daughters, he would be a historian if it paid as well as tech.

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