seojiwo April 12, 2023 0 Comments

Future Transportation Technologies to Watch

Future transportation technology will be electrified, carbon-neutral, autonomous and smart.

Over the next decade, commuter trends and innovations will center efficiency. This means renewable-energy alternatives that are both accessible and affordable, specifically designed to combat travel-related pollution and bottlenecks. This will involve embracing the shared, multi-modal options highlighted in the emerging mobility-as-a-service ecosystem — and maybe even self-driving cars and flying taxis. Future Transportation Technologies

Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (AAVs)

Autonomous aerial vehicles, or AAVs, are aircrafts that operate without human interference. They’re similar to drones in that they are also unmanned, airborne vehicles, but they are specifically designed to transport humans. In place of a pilot, the AAV system employs GPS, inertial navigation and a variety of sensors to drive the aircraft, collecting data mid-flight. Most models are configured as vertical take off and landing vehicles, or VTOLs. This means they can forgo a runway for lift off since they are built with horizontal rotors, like a helicopter, able to operate in confined spaces at quicker travel times.

EHang 216 AAV

This electric, driverless aircraft features eight propellers, powered by 16 motors, and can be fully charged in two hours. During flight, it communicates its status and location to the platform’s smart command-and-control center via 4G and 5G networks. The vehicle can carry its maximum 485-pound payload for 18 miles, and has a top speed of 80 miles per hour.

Delivery Drones

Delivery drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) designed to distribute lightweight packages as part of the last-mile delivery process. Either controlled remotely or autonomously with the help of artificial intelligence, these rechargeable flying robots navigate routes and drop-off points using GPS, sensors and computer vision systems.

The first commercial drone delivery to a residence in the United States took place in 2016 and included a chicken sandwich, donuts, coffee, candy and frozen Slurpees, as reported by The Verge. Today, drone delivery services are readily available abroad and continue to deploy in select U.S. cities as the Federal Aviation Administration finalizes rules on flying drones out of the operator’s eyeline. Wide-scale deployment can be expected as early as next year.

Amazon Prime Air

In the works since 2013, Amazon Prime Air aims to deliver goods up to five pounds within the hour. To date it’s completed just 100 deliveries in two U.S. markets — a slow start to its end-of-year goal of 10,000 deliveries in 2023.

Zipline’s P1 “Zips”

Zipline is the largest drone delivery system in the world, and is mostly active outside of the United States. The autonomous logistics company made its name in 2016 while partnered with vaccine non-profit Gavi, delivering 4,000 units of blood and urgent medical supplies to remote locations across Rwanda. Now, Zipline delivers assorted goods from Walmart, with 36 stores across seven states. It will soon be servicing Seattleites with their GNC supplements and favorite pies from Pagliacci Pizza, too.

Driverless Cars

Driverless cars, also referred to as self-driving cars, are vehicles that operate autonomously, without direct human input. All throughout the vehicle are sensors that enable the car or truck to “see” their surroundings. These mapping tools include cameras, radar, LiDAR, ultrasound or sonar, GPS, odometry and inertial measurement units. Together, they compute a three-dimensional model of the vehicle’s surroundings, which informs the vehicle of traffic controls, merging opportunities and obstacles en route.

Driving automation, according to the Society of Automotive Engineers, is split into six categories — zero being fully manual and five being entirely autonomous. This standard is recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Tesla’s Autopilot Feature

Elon Musk’s electric car manufacturer offers a semi-autonomous suite of features as a standard across its automotive line. All of its cars come with autopilot, which enables hands-free steering, adaptive cruise, lane-changing assist, park assist and emergency braking. Its enhanced autopilot system, so-called “full self-driving,” isn’t actually the real thing yet, but does add on traffic signal and stop sign control, auto lane change and smart summon, which allows a user to call their parked vehicle from a remote location. As tech advances, all Tesla cars are built for seamless software upgrades, according to the company.

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