Our Roads 205023 March 2020
By the year 2050, there’ll be a lot of new technology introduced on our roads to not only improve them and our daily commutes but also the environment too. Here we pull all these technologies that are being developed today into one scene to show you how our roads may look by the year 2050.
See the interactive version here
How Technology Will Charge Our Roads By 2050
1. Last Kilometre Stations (Electric-Powered Microvehicles)
Companies are creating new modes of transportation to get commuters from mass-transit stations to their final destinations. Electric-powered microvehicles will be kept at what will be known as “last-kilometre stations” and will protect users from the elements and will not require a driving license to operate. VeloMetro are a company currently working on this technology and have already publicly launched a pilot fleet serving student and staff at the University of British Columbia. Their vehicle, the Veemo is the first one-way sharing network of three-wheeled, electric-assisted vehicles in the world, and VeloMetro hope to expand their velomobiles to the Vancouver urban core soon and say the vehicles will be commercially available in the future.
2. Delivery Drones
Large delivery companies such as Amazon and UPS are already working on delivering packages via drones. Amazon in particular seem to be ready to fly having already set-up Prime Air a service that delivers packages up to five pounds in 30 minutes or less. According to Amazon they will deploy when and where they receive the regulatory support needed to safely fly their drones.
Aside from the normal packages, there are also companies like Zipline that deliver vaccines and other medical supplies by air using more plane-like drones. Zipline is currently in operation, already racking up over 30,000 deliveries.
The use of drones for deliveries of all sorts will dramatically reduce the number of lorries and trucks on the road.
3. Autonomous Vehicle Parking Lots
According to the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, a shift from private to shared autonomous vehicles could reduce parking demands by 50%, but in order to do this shared vehicles will require special parking facilities with electric charging stations and vehicle cleaning services.
Also, even if private autonomous vehicles were used by the public, it’s unlikely the car will be sent back home, owners will most likely want their vehicle nearby, which will again result in the need of a place to house the cars.
4. Sensors EVERYWHERE
In the future, there will be sensors in pretty much everything, pretty much everywhere. They’ll be embedded in vehicles, buildings, traffic lights and even the roads, which will provide real-time traffic flow and usage patterns, preventing accidents. They’ll be so many that analysts predict by the end of 2020 there’ll be over 21 billion things connected by sensors.
5. On-Demand Public Transport
Thanks to connected devices and Big Data, transportation will go from fixed routes and timed schedules, to one where the number of trains, buses, ferries etc available will depend on user demand, which could improve operational efficiency and reduce waiting times and crowding at peak times.
There have already been multiple trials of the new on-demand system including arrivaclick from one of the UK’s leading bus companies Arriva currently trialling in Leicester, Liverpool and Watford, PICKMEUP in Oxford from Oxford Bus Company and Slide in Bristol. These services allow customers to tell these companies where they want to be picked up via an app. On-demand buses will then pick customers up from ‘virtual bus stops’ and the intelligent software works out the best way to take riders and other passengers to chosen destinations.
6. Solar Panel Roads
Companies are testing solar panel roads that will generate energy for power grids or to charge electric vehicles. These roads will allow the car to charge while on these roads. They will also likely power road-side signs, speed cameras and streetlights. Further reports state that some experts have theorised that if roads were converted from tarmac to solar panels, there could be enough sunlight absorbed to power entire cities. Panels have also been predicted to come fitted with LED lights that will illuminate road and warning signs directly into the road itself.
One of the companies leading the way in this sector is an Israeli start-up called Electreon who are specialising in enabling electric cars to be charged while on the road. Electreon have placed copper coils under 900 feet of circular pavement at their test site on a boarding school campus outside of Tel Aviv that transmit recharging wireless energy to electric cars. Their goal is to initially electrify urban bus and shuttle routes in an effort to clean Israel’s city air and reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil.
7. Self-Repairing Roads
Researchers at Cambridge, Bath and Cardiff Universities are working on creating material that is “self-healing”. This material can be applied to roads, making potholes and cracks a thing of the past. According to recent research, roads today have a 20-40-year lifespan but with this new technology, this could be doubled to 80 years.
Epion Asphalt is a company at the forefront of this new technology. Their healing technologies extends pavement service life by 50-100%. When rejuvenation capsules are also embedded in a healing pavement, its lifespan will be lengthened even further and also cost comparatively little to maintain according to their site.
8. Electric Charging Stations
Electric vehicle use could reduce carbon pollution by 550 million metric tons per year by 2050, which is the equivalent to the emissions from 100 million of today’s passenger cars says a study from the US-based Natural Resource Defense Council and the Electric Power Research Institute. As a result, there’ll be far more widespread electric charging points.
That’s all the technology for now, but we’re sure it won’t be long until we’re updating this piece with more and more tech as we move closer to the year 2050. If you enjoyed the piece, why not share it with your friends using the Facebook and Twitter buttons provided?