Evolution of Mobility: A World of Amazing Future Tech

Mankind has come a long way in building transportation to increase mobility. From the invention of the wheel to the creation of modern vehicles, the evolution of mobility has helped human civilization develop and thrive. What innovations await us in the future? The final piece of this three-part series envisions how transit will improve by 2050, and the progress required to get there.

Shot of a Futuristic Self-Driving Van Moving on a Public Highway in a Modern City with Glass Skyscrapers. Beautiful Female and Senior Man are Having a Conversation in a Driverless Autonomous Vehicle. © Gorodenkoff /

May 14, 2024 05:46 EDT

Our world needs effective transit to make societal progress, but this is limited by our present technology and infrastructure. In the future, mobility will continue to rapidly advance across the dimensions of cost, efficiencies, safety and sustainability. Advances in artificial intelligence, connectivity, solar power and batteries will make electric vehicles the dominant mode of travel. The reduction of daily obstacles, like dangerous collisions and wasted commute time, will increase our overall productivity. New business models focused on mobility will also take root. These innovations will prove essential to the well-being of the senior population, which will grow dramatically by 2050.

This is the third of a three-part series, which, against the backdrop of this year’s Autonomous e-Mobility Forum in Qatar, sheds light on the evolution of mobility through distinct periods: ancient history, ending at the 18th century; the industrial age, leading up to current technologies and the era of AI and driverless e-mobility.

Three combined levels of innovation

Modern, interconnected lifestyles prevalent by 2050 will demand that mobility performs as a seamlessly integrated service. It will be expected to work behind the scenes to orchestrate the movement of people, goods and services from source to destination. Imagine a future where a low-speed, golf cart-styled neighborhood buggy shows up precisely when you are leaving for work. The buggy drops you off at the bus stop, where an automated people mover is already waiting to drop off passengers at the nearest metro station, where a train already awaits at the platform. This chain of convenient transit continues until you reach your destination.

Orchestrating such a service for millions of users all throughout the day has been impossible so far. But with advances in quantum computing, the explosion in computing capacity and real time, all-pervasive connectivity, it could happen. Mass personalization and optimization will become a reality through combined innovations at three levels.

The first level will be intelligent, aware, electric and autonomous vehicles. Solid-state batteries will become mainstream, causing battery weight and charging times to improve. As a result, all vehicles will become electric-powered. Solar panels made perovskite and similar materials will lead to smaller panels and higher power generation; solar-powered vehicles will reduce the demand for grid charging.

Connectivity will have improved in speed, bandwidth and latency. With high-speed broadband cellular networks available, intelligent edge computing will work seamlessly with cloud quantum computing to make safe, real-time operations possible. Capitalizing on this, new types of vehicles will be created, suited for various usage environments. These will range from housing complexes and neighborhoods at the local levels, to newer modes like electric Vertical, Take-Off and Landing aircraft (eVTOLs) for intracity and intercity travel.

The second level will be smart, interactive and adaptive infrastructure. Vehicle-to-infrastructure communication will become widespread across all levels in intelligent cities — from housing complexes to neighborhoods to local roads, highways and expressways. Real-time awareness of congestion, weather and road conditions, as well as communication to vehicles, will improve user safety, responsiveness and convenience.

The third level will be integrated digital mobility fabric and e-mobility backbone. Advanced countries will create an integrated digital mobility fabric that will be supported by a digital e-mobility backbone, enabling users and mobility service providers to engage with each other. Such a cloud-based backbone service will become a utility for autonomous e-mobility and will require governments and the industry to create standards for mobility services. These standards must encapsulate existing and newly developed ones to fill in any gaps. They will enable customers and service providers to seamlessly plug in and discover each other through an optimized service.

Mobility needed for an aging world

The foundational tasks for orchestrating mobility vehicles on the intelligent infrastructure will become as reliable as any other utility. When that happens, it will unlock productivity, personalization and convenience at unprecedented levels. This will reduce the demand for parking spaces by 90% or more, reduce collisions and deaths by 90% and increase productivity by recapturing the commute time. Additionally, new business models like mobile clinics, mobile offices, mobile kitchens and many other personalized services will become feasible.

These innovations are not only wishful, but a requirement given the world’s aging population. By 2050, the population of people aged 65 or older is projected to nearly double from 771 million in 2022 to 1.5 billion. The number of people above age 80 is expected to triple from 137 million in 2017 to 425 million. In the United States alone, there will be 386,000 people over age 100 — that is over a quarter of Hawaii’s population. The ratio of women to men in the older age population will increase to 54-59%. With the decline in the working age population across most of the world, the availability of autonomous e-mobility services will help determine the quality of life for much of society.

Qatar has already made impressive foundational investments. The country has leaned on its Qatar National Vision 2030 and created a comprehensive Transportation Master Plan for Qatar (TMPQ) to support it. By bringing the TMPQ to life through the creation of a digital mobility fabric and digital e-mobility backbone, Qatar will likely cement its leadership in this space. It may even set standards for the world to follow.

[Lee Thompson-Kolar edited this piece.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.


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