The first generation of people to rely entirely on driverless transport has already been born, a key industry figure has predicted.
Justin Anderson, chief executive of smart systems firm Flexeye, told NCE that a transport revolution would happen within 20 years.
He said the internet of things – a web of sensors on infrastructure and objects – would facilitate automated travel on a grand scale.
“We have been through a period where we own gas guzzling vehicles and leave them sitting around 97% of the time,” said Anderson.
“This is an inefficient use of materials. We are going to find more efficient ways – electric vehicles, shared transport, different business models.
“There will be a generation of kids, who might have already been born, who will never learn to drive. Actually driving yourself will be old school, like using a fax machine.”
Anderson said the Tesla S P85D electric car showed what could be done with digital technology. The vehicle can read road signs and act accordingly, as well as braking automatically and going from 0-60mph in around 3 seconds.
“Public transport will change,” said Anderson. “There is no need for us to be employing drivers across the rail based network and that will soon be the same on the roads.”
He said smart phones will eventually be used to hail driverless cars that may not even require payment – instead a series of adverts may be played in-car or the journey may route past a certain supermarket.
“Driverless cars are being tested across the US and in parts of the UK,” he said. “The quality of these sensors is better than our eyes and ears – especially when we have the radio on.”
The internet of things will also make vehicles and infrastructure run more efficiently, Anderson said, with sensors notifying people when a brake pad needed replacing or a bridge required work.
“We will optimise the maintenance cycle,” he said. “We will also get a richer picture of the asset, knowing when a road is flooded, or there is a leak on a pipe.”
Along with Amey, Balfour Beatty and many others, Flexeye is part of the Hypercat consortium, which is aiming to bring a common language to the internet of things.
“We believe that 40% of the value we can deliver will be achieved by solving the challenge of interoperability,” said Anderson.
“Hypercat is a solution: a simple and open specification that everyone can understand. Once we can combine information you get a fertile environment for innovation and collaboration.”
Future Technology Forum
Justin Anderson will be speaking at NCE’s Future Technology Forum in London on 1 October.
The one-day event, taking place at The Crystal, brings together the industry’s key decision-makers, innovators and technology leaders to share crucial insight on how emerging technologies can improve the design, delivery and maintenance of future structures and infrastructure. Find out more about the programme, which features exciting interactive formats such as World Café discussions and a live Next-Generation Dragons’ Den completion, here, and see who our speakers, dragons and advisory board are here.