Authors of the recently launched book “Faster, Smarter, Greener: The Future of the Car and Urban Mobility (MIT Press)” discuss the history of the car, current trends and how we’ve arrived at today’s problems in mobility. Then they move on to outline the core principles of mobility for the future.
The authors of the book are Prof. Charles Fine, Venkat Sumantran and David Gonsalvez. Fine is a professor at MIT Sloan who researches on supply chain strategies. Sumantran is the Celeris Technology Chairman, while Gonsalvez is CEO and rector of MIT’s Malaysia Institute for Supply Chain Innovation. In the book, the authors detail a possible solution for the replacement of cars as the dominant form of transport and mobility.
Their idea revolves around the concept of “CHIP” architecture. CHIP stands for connectivity, heterogeneity, intelligence, and personalization.
In any mobility solution, there would be different modes of transport. It is vital that citizens should be able to move from one mode to another in a seamless manner. Keeping people and transport connected helps keep transition costs low. With low transition costs, people can take advantage of the different modes of transportation. A person can take the train, then ride a bike, and then walk, without any need of an external agent. With automated credit card transactions, users do not need to pull out their credit cards every time they purchase anything.
Currently, there is an inordinate dependence on cars. People will have options to take the train, the bus, the subway, car-share, bike-shares or light rail. Along with the mix, they can also choose to ride a bike along well-maintained paths. Cities need to support these array of solutions with the necessary infrastructure.
Big data and intelligence can help to build the smart CHIP infrastructure. Apps can help people find the best way to get to a certain destination. Other information which can be part of the app is the weather and traffic conditions. With the use of an app, the information is readily available to the user.
These solutions and apps are customizable across different platforms. The commuter can choose a path from one point to another with the use of a personalized option. He can choose the fastest route, the traditional route, cost, speed, safety and others. Each person is unique, and personalization addresses the needs of these individuals, at any given time.
The above concepts are the basis for any solution to phase out the car. The car is s a person’s second home. This familiarity makes it hard for the general public to choose other options. However, it requires an integrated solution to compel people to ride a bike or walk to the office. A recent study showed that cars are only used for about one hour a day. There is also a large number of people who drive their cars to work every day. Cutting down on this habit would result in a significant reduction of greenhouses gases. With an integrated approach the user does not need to bring his car to work, as there are other options for getting a person from point A to B.