The utopia of intelligent mobility … is it a social dystopia?

Large forecasts on the mobility of the future made in the past century matched in technology but erred in its consequences. imagined fast cars, connected by satellite and comfortable, but were not able to anticipate accidents, traffic congestion or pollution. imagined cities adapted to the car but saw come the endless suburbs or urban servitude to road traffic. If those technological forecasts have brought about unwanted and unexpected side effects … What makes us think that our future will not fall into the same mistakes? Will autonomous driving, the Smart Cities and projects as the Hyperloop as idyllic as they sound or have a dark side? Here are three signs that our utopia of mobility could turn our cities into a dystopia

1. The autonomous car to remain the king of the city?

Renault_33627_global_en For some time the MIT Senseable City Lab of Carlo Ratti appeared in a video of his project “Drive Wave” the recreation of a crossroads of the future for autonomous cars, a beautiful dance of precision between intelligent vehicles. Then someone asked … “ But … where are here pedestrians and cyclists? ” The idea of ​​a future city crisscrossed by autonomous and efficient cars (private or rental) is very suggestive, but maybe the fascination with technology does not let us see clearly the overall picture. Systems “car sharing” with autonomous cars and private autonomous cars promise to reduce traffic congestion and the number of vehicles in circulation within two decades.

If we imagine future cities from Smart cars Did not happen that those cars are still the kings of urban space?

But for 2030 1000 million more people expected on earth, a million and a half in Spain and a global urban concentration of more than 60%. In those cities of the future densely populated and very extensive there will be much need of transportation which multiplied the need for travel, vehicles and therefore spaces reserved for them. Recreations of the cities of the future urban centers often show pacified with spaces for leisure and commerce, and autonomous vehicles that roam safe for pedestrians. But in those cities will still need transportation services, there will be extensive periphery and citizens whose need for travel around the city include walking and cycling to your “home – work – work – leisure – home.” Where will the space for those pedestrians and cyclists? How about peripheries crossed by autonomous cars and also for private cars will be designed manned?

DRIVEWAVE04 No matter how smart they are, these fleets of cars also reserves will require space to move and be parked around the city, and lived with a fleet of private cars for decades hardly fall from 500 per 1000 inhabitants. seems obvious but if we imagine future cities from the autonomous cars will most likely these cars (not vegan ciudadanxs) are the kings of the city. And just like 60 years ago, is not these recreations casual city future offer car manufacturers or computer services.

2.- Clean mobility of the future will be a law … or a luxury?

Renault_31699_global_en Every day we have recreation or a city car of the future set in leisure and trade in urban centers and in which people are happy, dynamic and wears stylish . A nice wrapper is realistic as well as images of American housewives 50s up their skirts flying rocket cars to 2000 . Where these recreations are people living in the periphery and have jobs or services or even have to combine several jobs to make ends meet? It is a poetic stance so confident can we be that in less than two decades our cities will be traversed by autonomous and intelligent cars like that in those cities will remain a major economic inequality and urban sprawl based on income . So the formula by which they are accessed smart mobility services delimit if it becomes a public good or a barrier separating two societies.

hyperloop-02-1440px It seems that in the future a few companies monitor systems intelligent mobility in all cities (similar to what happens with existing systems “bike sharing”, for example) probably will be market research and global account balances to determine the areas in which these services are cost effective and that (as also happens today with bike sharing systems), you can leave whole areas of the city out of reach, especially between the periphery .

The commercial formula to access the smart mobility as well become collective or social barrier

Rather centers shielding themselves against trafficking end up limiting it to cars “car sharing” intelligent electric vehicles or imposing tolls (as happens), but always with the economic factor as a filter: to pay the toll for buy a “clean” car or to subscribe to a particular service mobility. Money that may be paid professionals whose offices are in the main streets but not the people who cleaned or who served in the bar below. Smart mobility of the future is likely to increase urban tension between center and periphery and, what is worse, the differences between city dwellers according to their income and place of residence.

12A914 And there is a third factor that “our” future mobility could increase social gaps. The tendency to stagnation in the rate of cars per capita in Europe and the United States and the apparent indifference of the young against the car could be only part of the picture, the (shrinking) middle class . A recent survey of US transportation indicates that beyond the age range aspiration private car is still a strong tendency among people with lower income , and the explanation has to do precisely urban mobility who earn less often condemned to live further away from the centers and the rest of the city, and thus also to suffer longer trips in urban transport to get to work . For this (in ascending unfortunately) of the population, also the prospect of using the bicycle as urban transport appears to be a residual option for distance and because the car retains the character of a symbol of prosperity.

A city of the future with smart mobility that reaches only the neighborhoods where it is most profitable, in which those who have less are almost doomed to have car to go to work, but in urban centers are shielded against private car does not look exactly an idyllic place to live

3. Maps of the new Circular Movement, do based on “cookies”?

13C424_04 One of the most repeated images in our recreations of the future of mobility is an intelligent car carrying one person to their destination while she performs any other task. A car that knows where to go because navigation software GPS he tells , and is able to vary the route based on traffic data … and also in terms of the algorithms that are programmed. But What are these algorithms and who decides? In the autonomous driving who owns the maps and whoever has the navigation software will have enormous power over how traffic flows and cities move. A provider like Google or Facebook would also have vast knowledge of databases on our tastes and habits obtained from our Internet surfing. These figures serve to organize our search results based on our preferences, to offer a few ads in other websites, or to introduce a news section based on our clicks.

The world of autonomous cars would closely resemble the current Internet activity concentrating on a few areas and leaving other

How do you move this physical world and driving on the roads? A mapping that is guided by the positioning in search of the landmarks that appear or act more factors distances or preferred long way not only distort our perception of the city and the surrounding space in it but it would have real effects on the urban territory. Somehow in a future in which a few large companies accumulate control software and hardware independent circulation, the power of these on the evolution of a city is higher than that of any development plan or municipal authority. The SEO happen to have an unusual importance in the physical world and the ability to attract inhabitants, services or business opportunities neighborhoods depend largely on the skills to position in the searches rather than resources and own needs.

The way to design and manage intelligent mobility will determine the construction or infrastructure and it will depend in the long run, cohesion or abandoning whole areas of cities. A mobility that will bring many “Hyperloop” as “Gamonal”.

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Source: CityLab | The Guardian | MIT Senseable Lab
Photos: Daimler Media | Renault Presse | Audi Mediaservices | MIT Senseable Lab
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