What’s Driving the Future of Urban Mobility?
We’re currently in the midst of the Department of Transportation’s Smart Cities Challenge, which will award $50 million to one of seven cities to realize their vision for mobility. It’s very exciting to see the Federal government make an investment in expanding mobility options, especially with such a strong emphasis on technology innovation.
As I dream of urban mobility becoming low-carbon, safe, efficient, and equitable, I had to pause and wonder how we got to this point. What’s causing cities to re-think mobility, and why now? Reading Navigant’s report on “Urban Mobility in Smart Cities” reminded me of what’s driving us into the future of mobility (pun-intended):
- Urban Congestion - Increasing mobility options = less cars on the road. Researchers at Texas A&M estimate that congestion costs the U.S. economy $100 billion in time and fuel annually. Urban areas account for 60% of that cost, resulting in 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel in a year.
- Clean Air and GHG Emissions – Respiratory effects of fossil combustion and smog threaten the health of cities. Furthermore, transportation can account for 20% of a city’s GHG emissions.
- Connected Devices – Smartphones provide information on multiple modes, parking, traffic information, and payment. GPS navigators, in-vehicle telematics, and smart cards can all contribute to reducing congestion and avoiding accidents.
- Sharing Economy – Smartphones have brought transportation options like car-sharing, bike-sharing, or a pick-up easier for the end user to access – when they need it.
- Electric & Autonomous Vehicles – Zero tail pipe and low noise emissions make PEVs very attractive to cities. Plus, they can literally plug-into the rest of the city’s smart energy ecosystem, and potentially optimize the use of the battery to serve the grid. AVs can make mobility as a service that much cheaper by removing the expense of paying a driver, among other benefits.
Indeed, it has been a mix of environmental, social, economic, and technological factors that have caused cities to re-think mobility. American cities have been built in the age of the automobile, which has brought on many opportunities but has also caused many problems. The Rocky Mountain Institute estimates that personally owned vehicles produce 15% of U.S. emissions, 30% of global oil consumption, sit unused 95% of the time, and consume 27% of income of U.S. median-income households.
We’re now looking at the seven cities across the country to implement their smart city vision and bring us into the next phase of transportation. Autodesk is proud to partner with the DOT by offering the finalists with InfraWorks 360, which now includes Traffic & Mobility Simulation, so that they can design and visualize the future of urban mobility.
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