Accelerating to Zero
Connected-driverless vehicles (automobiles not operated by humans, yet connected to a sophisticated guidance network) will become the norm.
You’re jolted awake from a nap as you recline in your seat—which more closely resembles a bed. Your disorientation gives way to clarity and recognition. You find yourself in the familiar surroundings of an SMH 840 transport vehicle pulling up to your destination. It’s all coming back to you now. You hired the vehicle a little more than an hour ago to take you for the 163-mile journey from your home to the office in the city. You sat back and relaxed as you were enveloped by your favorite tunes and scents, and your favorite food and beverages were placed at your fingertips. The relaxing full body massage caused you to drift off to sleep. There is no driver in this vehicle. In fact, you haven’t been in a vehicle with a human operator for more than five years. It’s 2048.
Images from your dream begin trickling back to you. As weird as it sounds, in your dream, you were driving your own car on a busy road with hundreds of other cars, all with their own individual drivers. You passed an accident and you could see the emergency response vehicles and two bodies on stretchers, covered in shrouds. That’s when you woke up. A shiver runs down your spine at such a graphic confrontation with death and you momentarily contemplate your own mortality.
Exiting the vehicle, you feel the sunshine on your face and you sigh in relief that you no longer live in the dark ages when people were subjected to the daily risks associated with humans operating automobiles. In just two years, at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day 2050, the manually-operated vehicles, in those few remaining places in the U.S. where they are still permitted to operate, will finally be eliminated. It will no longer be legal for humans to drive a vehicle on the road or in the air except in closed areas dedicated to the nostalgia and the entertainment associated with actually driving an automobile.
It’s amazing that mere decades ago, cars were almost exclusively human operated—and all of them were driven on asphalt and concrete roadways. That was before the advent and proliferation of Connected-Driverless Vehicles (CDVs). In most major cities fully 40% of vehicular transport is now in the air, with human-operated vehicles eliminated years ago. Private ownership of cars fell below 5% in 2039. Now, nearly all vehicles are manufactured and operated by three companies: SMH (Shanghai/Mumbai/Hyundai—a result of the merger of Shanghai Motors, Tata, and Hyundai), GVB (General Motors, including its Tesla subsidiary, Volkswagen, Mazda, Volvo, and Benz), and World Motors (Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Peugeot, Nissan, and most of the remaining traditional automobile makers). Hydrogen fuel cells have nearly eliminated fossil fuel- and electric-powered vehicles.
Your dream about the accident—correction, nightmare—thankfully, was just that, a dream. The possibility that you will ever see an accident, especially one resulting in fatalities, is incredibly remote. In the past, the number of people killed annually in traffic fatalities in the U.S. was epic in proportion. In 2046 the number fell below 1,000 for the first time on record, and is forecast to fall below 400 by 2050. You smile to yourself, comforted by the assurance that an even safer future for transport lies ahead.
Suddenly, you awake. You’re confused—was that just a dream about a dream? You check your phone, and see that it’s still 2018. You are surprised and even a little delighted by your encounter with your vision of the future. You reflect on what you have just experienced. You think about the possibility of how much of what was in your dream about 2048 could actually happen. You wonder, how likely is it that it will it happen the way you experienced it? It’s anybody’s guess, really. What’s highly likely is that there will be a consolidation of automobile manufacturers over the coming decades, and that personal vehicle ownership will dramatically decline as driverless car services become the norm. Widespread adoption of flying or hover vehicles and of fuel cell technologies is more speculative and will rely on significant technological advancements that presently are in their infancy.
You’re pretty confident, however, that whatever route these trends take, Connected-Driverless Vehicles (automobiles not operated by humans, yet connected to a sophisticated guidance network) will become the norm. They will be possible based on the development and deployment of robust, reliable communications and transport technologies between vehicles and transportation systems. This is where we, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, come in, because we are playing our part by providing advanced ITS solutions for the transportation industry, paving the way for the roads and vehicles of the future.
We are also contributing to another very important and positive outcome: a dramatic increase in safety. Today, there are more than 35,000 traffic fatalities annually in the U.S., and an estimated more than 1.25M worldwide. With the adoption of CDVs, these numbers will be dramatically reduced in the coming decades. The goal, of course, is to eliminate vehicle related fatalities altogether. ALE, in conjunction with many other companies offering complimentary technologies for the advancement of ITS, is dedicated to this goal. Our efforts are increasing in activity and resolve. We believe that any traffic related death is one too many. Ours is not merely a dream.
When it comes to eliminating traffic fatalities through the implementation of advanced ITS technologies, ALE is driven by a course of action that is embodied in a simple life-preserving proposition: We are…Accelerating to Zero.
We invite you to join us for the ride! For more information, visit: https://www.al-enterprise.com/en/industries/transportation/its
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