Tag: Future Mobility

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While NASA is planning to send the first human explorers to Mars sometime in the 2030s, several non-governmental organizations, including at least one private company (SpaceX), are looking at more aggressive timelines starting in the 2020s. They are also setting a higher bar: rather than sending astronauts for a limited-duration mission, the goal is establishing a permanent human settlement.

A commercial space transportation industry is growing rapidly. Private companies are competing for launch contracts for government, military and private customers, and prices are falling quickly. NASA is turning its human spaceflight attention from low Earth orbit to the Moon and beyond. Several companies are even thinking about building settlements on Mars.

A recent summit titled ‘Disrupting Mobility’ held at MIT’s (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) campus in Cambridge drew thought leaders from both the private and public sectors to discuss sustainable transportation futures. Some of the key topic areas discussed during the summit were social trends in disrupting mobility, improving accessibility, the sharing economy, and the government’s role in the future of mobility.

The film Back to the Future Part II predicted flying cars in 2015, but it also predicted that fax machines would still be important. It overestimated progress in certain technology (the car), but also underestimated others (the internet). When internet technology is combined with long-existing vehicles like bikes, cars and scooters, new transportation systems can be built that solve real-world problems.

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Urban Mobility

How are we moving people from point A to point B?
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Recent statistics from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute suggest congestion is rising. A congested city, compared to exactly the same city where everyone can move faster, has lower accessibility (the number of places travelers can reach in a given time is reduced). This limits people’s ability to interact, and thus reduces economic activity, but congestion is also a signifier of economic activity. All the great cities are congested.