A Brief History Of Vehicles
Over the course of humanity’s progression, road transportation has proven to be one of the main lifelines in our world’s societies, and their respective growth, for thousands of years.. During the inception of road transportation as we know it, man (and woman) leveraged many “beats of burden” such as horses, mules, camels, etc. to pull them on a buggy, cart, or other transportation mechanism. As humanity progressed, we have then began to experience self-propelling vehicles, through various mechanism such as steam, electricity, and springs.
This experimentation began as early as the late 15th century, when the iconic inventor, Leonardo Da Vinci, cultivated the blueprints to the world’s first self-propelled car using spring mechanism to propel the car forward. Then, in the 18th century, Nicolas Joseph Cugnot had created the world’s first steam powered engine, in which traveled at the groundbreaking, yet slow, speed of 2 and ½ miles per hour. Finally, in 1886, Carl Benz applied for the world’s first patent for a “vehicle powered by gas engine.” On top of which, one year before the creation of this patent, Gottlieb Daimler,was patented the first “true motorcycle” of which was gasoline powered. As time moved on, the popularity of the automobile grew exponentially. Following this automobile demand, in the early 20th century, the infamous, automotive magnate, Henry Ford, cultivated the iconic Model T. From the vehicle’s overwhelming popularity, Ford then continued to create the world’s first automotive assembly line. This moment in history has the paved the way for our world in regards to how we now travel today. Imagine our world without cars, trucks, and motos…
Modern Day Vehicles
Let us now fast forward to the modern day vehicle. In our current pinnacle of automotive development we are witnessing more car manufacturers than ever. On top of which, we are perceiving that vehicle standards are growing exponentially, every year. In this growth, we are seeing automobile manufacturers, of all economic levels, compete against one another in efforts to make sure their latest vehicle line has the latest technologies in which trump eachother. This race in the automobile sector also applies to the two and three-wheel vehicle industry as well. In the past decade, we have been seeing a staggering amount of automotive giants disseminate fully electric options into their vehicle lineup, such as BMW, Nissan, and Chevrolet. On top of which, we are experiencing companies that are completely dedicated to disseminating only electric vehicles, such as the infamous, Tesla. This paradigm shift into fully electric vehicles is in conjunction with the worldly effort to preserve our ecosystem/environment, and make way for a “greener,” more energy efficient future. As OEMs and vehicle manufacturers advance in their technological and developmental processes, we are will begin to see this paradigm shift into electric vehicles become a more, common place.
No matter, if we have a gasoline, diesel, or electric vehicle, that majority of vehicles in our world heavily rely upon mobility systems to operate in proper manner.
Our world’s mobility systems are a crucial component to today’s cities, urban-centers, municipalities, suburban areas, agricultural areas, and uninhabited zones. In the aforementioned section regarding vehicles, and vehicle development, mobility systems are the platform in which act as the metaphorical template, or canvas, for vehicle operation, worldwide. Today’s mobility systems, and roads, connect entire cities, states, countries, and continents; and because of this, people have the capacity to experience many different parts, environments, and geography in which our planet provides and supports. In this experience, people are able to live in a more free manner, while resources indicative of human survival, may be imported and exported in an efficient fashion.
The dense cities of our world act as hubs for our urban mobility systems, and in these hubs, even in the outskirts of these systems, suffer from congestion on a daily basis. This congestion is a worldwide phenomenon, and due to it severe nature, contribute to unsafe driving conditions. statistics reveal that
“About 1.3 million people die each year on the world’s roads and between 20 and 50 million sustain non-fatal injuries.” – World Health Organization
With these staggering statistics, there are many catalysts of which contribute to the aforementioned reality. One of the main catalysts in mobility injury, and fatality, is mobility system infrastructure.
“The design of roads can have a considerable impact on their safety. Roads should be designed keeping in mind the safety of all road users. This would mean making sure that there are adequate facilities for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. Measures such as footpaths, cycling lanes, safe crossing points, and other traffic calming measures are critical to reducing the risk of injury among these road user.” – World Health Organization
Even though there are many, daunting issues ingrained in our world’s mobility system, we are beginning to see bright-evidences of hope in which are focusing on solve these problems. Be we explore the most prevalent examples of the aforementioned solutions, let us examine the underlying ecosystem in which will support these new, technological advancements, the “smart city.”
How Is A Smart City Defined?
Currently, cities, and urban infrastructures are attempting adapt to the extremely consistent changes in society as much as possible. Today, 54% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66% by 2050, as quoted from the United Nations. This population growth, and concentration, is certainly the main, infrastructural challenge we face; thus, solutions are be demanded to solve problems for today issues, and prevent further issues for many decades to come. From this level of action and solution, smart cities come. The exact definition of a “Smart City” is quite controversial, however, we may introduce this concept as:
“A smart city is a municipality that uses information and communication technologies to increase operational efficiency, share information with the public and improve both the quality of government services and citizen welfare.” – IoT Agenda
IoT & Cyber-Physical Systems
We are seeing that the metaphorical “fuel to the flame” in smart city development manifests as technological advancement in the hardware, and software spaces. In these spaces, two of the main, chief aims present themselves as big-data and connectivity; these chief aims in conjunction with industry 4.0, or the 4th industrial revolution:
“Industry 4.0 will use the Internet of Things and cyber-physical systems such as sensors having the ability to collect data that can be used by manufacturers and producers. Secondly, the advancements in big data and powerful analytics means that systems can trawl through the huge sets of data and produce insights that can be acted upon quickly. Thirdly, the communications infrastructure backing this up is secure enough to be used by heavy industries.” – Tech Rader
IoT devices are now becoming a common place, where they have the capacity to be embedded, worn, and/or installed in objects, such as an automobile, while having the ability to interact with another device and/or system, over the internet. IoT devices, majorly equipped with many different sensors, have the ability to tracks many data points, about a person, place, thing, or system. An underlying focus of these devices resides in human behavior, in conjunction with mechanical/technical behavior.
Whereas, cyber-physical systems (CPS) are similar in functionality compared to IoT devices, CPSs take embedded, sensory systems a step further, by allowing more physical action to be taken place autonomously, versus just producing highly-detailed observations. An example is the driverless car.
With big-data being one of the most important aspects in the mobility department of the smart city initiative, the “decision makers” will proceed to have a more in-depth, ultra-fine grasp of how problems are occuring; pinpoint exactly which catalysts cause overarching issues (such as road congestion); and which solutions can be implemented, and how. This is also where Artificial intelligence will have a larger role in societal development; by having the capacity to translate raw, big-data into meaningful, and tangible information, whilst controlling the operations of cyber-physical systems. Back behind the potentiality, what if quantum computing processes supported the whole, aforementioned ecosystem. More data will be able to be produced; the data will be more accurate; data will be able to be translated instantaneously, no matter the quantity, between interoperating systems, without latency. On top of which, hyper-advanced predictions, suggestions, and impact will allow CPSs and IoT devices to almost be “alive.”
How Our Smart City Initiative Will Change Our Mobility Systems By Using Connected Vehicles
Aforementioned, we are seeing new trends appear such as driverless cars and smart vehicles. In these advancements, we are beginning to see more efficient methods of transportation, at lower costs; as in the case of driverless vehicles. This technology will impact ride sharing, car-pooling, and the actual need for a car. Imagine this scenario: One is living in a city, however, one prefers automobiles over public transportation. Instead of taking an Uber with a driver, in New York City, for example, an having to pay $15 USD for a commute, the individual will only pay a fraction of the price. On top of which, there will be a need for less vehicles on the road, as the same,autonomous vehicle will have the capacity to take multiple trips per day. Then, what if these automobiles are fully-electric? They will have the capacity to autonomously drive back back to charging stations. Not to mention, the upcoming release of charging panels built underneath specific roads to make charging a much easier feat. This is all while data is being shared, in real-time, to the manufacturer, city/government, energy companies, and more Now, on an ethical level, there surely has to be a balance of driver, and driverless vehicles, right? This where the double-edged sword has the potential to come into play.
On a more “manual” level, a prevalent IoT device we are now seeing for automobiles, as an example, are OBDII devices of which have the capacity to connect with cars’ computers to scrape a plethora of data that has the capacity to track vehicles’ conditions, along with drivers’ behaviors on the road. This will allows driver to be more conscious of their own driving behaviors, along with granting to option to share the data with road organizations, insurance companies, employers, and more, in real-time.
A very interesting concept in the connected vehicle space has been cultivated by, ZF, called the Car eWallet:
The example in the above video, is a fantastic use of how connected cars will have the capacity to earn money/crypto, and other rewards, by leveraging blockchain technology.
How Blockchain Will Decentralize Connected Vehicle Ecosystems
With big, mobility data, being a valuable commodity in this smart city initiative, and individuals producing this data, no one wants to be tracked, and capitalized on without choice, regardless of it benefiting the community or not, right (despite the fact many entities are already doing so)? As hinted upon in the aforementioned video, Blockchain technology is allowing individuals to number one, privatize their personal data, and number two, actually give permission to other entities to access and track their data for monetary value and rewards, while making our world’s roads mobility system a safer place.
In above-mentioned example given, users whom leverage IoT devices in there 4-wheel vehicles, will have the capacity to sell their personal, road-related data, in a direct or anonymous way to municipalities, cities, insurance companies, manufacturers/OEMs, and more, through the device provider, and/or other blockchain supportive companies whom act as a data exchange marketplace. Upon this level, when users give permission to release their data in real-time, other entities will have the capacity to allow their autonomous functions to act naturally, with little-to-none human intervention, whilst making AI powered systems smarter, faster.
Yes, that fact that people are able to be tracked down to their most finite of driving behaviors does sound frightening, however, Blockchain gives individuals peace of mind that they will have “full-control” over their personal information through a system in which is which is virtually “unhackable.” With this vision of earning money/rewards, and making an impact, by driving safely; reporting information automatically and manually; recharging your car or bike; using driverless vehicles; listening to personal, AI driver-assistants; and a plethora of other actions, will this be the everyday reality in our world’s mobility systems?