International Institute of Sustainable Transportation

Friday, June 21, 2013

Innovation and Incremental development

If you raise your view from the ground and look at transportation from above you will observe a few things. First, it's a steady flow of objects carrying people and goods constantly burning fossil fuels to move. Second, the patterns of flow is very similar to that of small water creeks turning into small rivers turning into a big massive flood of water.

Now, let's reverse the view and be a part of this flow. We are going from one place to another, either chained to the steering wheel and trying to find a way to get rid of our car when we arrive at our destination - or using public transit and trying to match timetables and routes in a way that does not mess up our precious time too much.

In this context I raise the issue again - Real Innovation in transportation can not come from within the existing modes. Anything that does that will always be limited to the current paradigm and can never break out of the box it´s put in.

Close you eyes and imagine a six lane congested freeway. Put in a little "innovation", let's say they are all now electric vehicles. Any difference? Not really. Let's add some more - imagine all of them being automatic driven by computers? It will still look the same, but maybe the people trapped in those cars at least can use their time working with their laptop or something. I don't object to electric self driving cars at all, I think it's great  that this evolution is happening. But it is incremental development within the current paradigm of city development - same roads, same parking issues, almost same accident problems, still congested roads and not least - a lof of energy misused for personal transportation.

The possibilities of solar powered Automated Transit Networks is far beyond the limitations of current technologies. We can get around way safer, faster, comfortable, greener and use land for what is should be used for - humans, not machines. I am going to Los Angeles at the end of June to meet with people looking into just that at a gathering hosted by Aerospace Corporation, the Mineta Transportation Institute and City of San Jose. An update will come soon at this blog.

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