Archive: transportation

May 1st, 2013 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Art & Society, Business & Economy, Environment & Energy, Innovation, New at Futurist.com, Science & Tech | Comments Off

Fast Co.Exist welcomes Glen to their Futurist Forum

FastCo Futurists

I was pleased this spring to join 5 other leading futurists as resident advisers on the future for Fast Company and their online endeavor FastCo Exist. We are called The Futurist Forum and our task is to imagine the future. The image above is a page from the May 2013 edition of Fast Company Magazine introducing the 6 experts to the magazine’s readers.

We each will be contributing articles periodically and participating in webcasts and online conversations. You can find my initial piece here, on the future of transportation. I highlight the prospects for solar roadways and a magnetic induction system for buses from the Wave company.

Check out the other’s in this forum, as they have very interesting things to say.

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November 15th, 2012 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Science & Tech | Comments Off

Breakthrough transportation technology

Elon Musk has done some amazing things – Paypal, Tesla, SpaceX. But last night on Jimmy Fallon he proposed a new transportation technology – the hyperloop – that he hopes to detail in coming months – a technology that would have properties including faster than a jet, impossible to crash, leaves when you want, and costs half the price of current options. Look forward to hearing what that could be. Watch the video interview at Jimmy Fallon. It can’t be imbedded here.

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August 1st, 2012 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Art & Society, Business & Economy | 2 Comments

Drove my Chevy to the levy and pushed it in – the future of cars

Beware the permanent trend.

What would happen if a generation stopped driving cars, or at least stopped dreaming that owning a car and driving everywhere was their defining passage into adulthood? What if each year auto ownership and miles driven declined? It would be the end of a seemingly permanent trend toward ever more miles driven and greater car ownership.

I first began seeing signs of this emerging trend (or better, trend reversal) in 2010, as I was producing a study for the state of Idaho on the 30-year future of transportation and economic development in Idaho. In that study I noted the following, based on a 2010 article in Advertising Age:

The Millennial generation…is not only very large – larger than the Baby Boom generation – but different in an important way. They are first computer and Internet generations, having grown up since infancy with computers, 24/7 network access, cell phones, blue-tooth enabled cars, and so on. They approach most life activities differently, that is, they approach them using the network first.

One critical example for the future is recent research showing, for the first time since the advent of the automobile, a youth generation less likely to own a car, drive a car, or have a drivers license than the previous generation. As reported in Advertising Age,

“In 1978, nearly half of 16-year-olds and three-quarters of 17-year-olds in the U.S. had their driver’s licenses, according to Department of Transportation data. By 2008, the most recent year data was available, only 31% of 16-year-olds and 49% of 17-year-olds had licenses, with the decline accelerating rapidly since 1998. Of course, many states have raised the minimum age for driver’s licenses or tightened restrictions; still, the downward trend holds true for 18- and 19-year-olds as well and those in their 20s.

It’s not just new drivers driving less. The share of automobile miles driven by people aged 21 to 30 in the U.S. fell to 13.7% in 2009 from 18.3% in 2001 and 20.8% in 1995, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration’s National Household Travel Survey released earlier this year.” (Advertising Age, (http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=144155) May 31, 2010)

This dramatic decline in driving behavior by young people occurred in a period when the percentage of the national population aged 21-30 actually increased slightly. The explanation goes well beyond restrictions on driving for 16-18 year olds, into a shift in values and behavior. Interest in cars has waned. They have become more expensive. Interest in digital communications has sky-rocketed. Digital communication has become less expensive. Young people in 2010, and adults in 2030 may find it far easier to text, to do computer-based work, and generally to stay connected while using public transportation rather than when driving a car. Even as legislatures around the nation ramp up bans on digital communication while driving, the desire to conduct work while commuting will continue to increase. All of these factors, combined with technology advances themselves, may make driving behavior in 2030 not at all like behavior prior to 2010.

Now comes more recent evidence supporting this trend. In a piece entitled “Goodbye James Dean,” Phineas Baxandall, senior analyst at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, observes that Americans drove a billion fewer miles in April 2012 than they did in 2011, despite a somewhat better economy. Moreover, in a reversal of a six-decade trend to ever-increasing miles driven, Americans were already driving 6 percent less in 2011 than they were in 2004. Baxandall noted,

…the decline is particularly strong among young people. Americans between 16 to 34 years of age drove a whopping 23 percent fewer miles in 2009 than in 2001. These same youth increased their bicycle riding by 24 percent and increased their miles on public transit by 40 percent.

In addition to driving fewer miles, young people are leading the way to a declining percentage with driver’s licenses. The decline has been especially dramatic for men ages 20 to 34, falling from nearly 95 percent with a license to under 80 percent with a license, depending on the age cohort.

How much of this due to unemployment making it too difficult to own a car, versus the trend representing a true values shift, we will have to wait and see following a more robust economic recovery. But the love affair with cars may be wearing out as people opt for a less car-dependent life style. So concerned with a possible shift in consumer behavior are Ford and GM that they have both initiated research and marketing efforts aimed even more specifically at Millennials.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist, author, speaker, consultant, Founder of Futurist.com, and founder and Curator of DoTheFuture.com. To arrange for a speech, workshop or consultation contact Futurist.com.

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May 5th, 2012 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Art & Society, Innovation | 2 Comments

Aging population brings future food and transportation challenges

We have known for a long time that the national and global population is aging. It is not that people never lived to be 65 or 75 or 85 in the past, but not such a large portion of a growing global population. Here is a 2009 United Nations chart that illustrates what is coming in the next four decades.

Global Aging Population Credit: United Nations 2009

A shift to billions more people over age 65 is dramatic, but it is the numbers for those over age 85 that are the most important story I think. This is because at that age people generally leave their homes and seek alternative housing, have almost certainly stopped driving if they live in a auto-centered country, and both general care and health care needs begin to really increase. There are important social and economic issues created when a quarter of the population is over 65, but these increase dramatically when the cohort reaches 85.

Two recent articles highlight two critical pending issues. The first is that in a nation like the U.S., which is nearly completely dependent on the car for personal transportation, the dilemma of how to balance the desire of elders to stay in their homes and the need to get around when they cannot drive is growing. Florida, which already has 3 million residents over age 65 is confronting the issue now. Will it be expanded transit, or private cabs, or van services provided by institutions like health care facilities that address the need? This is yet to be determined.

A second issue is hunger. The Senior Hunger Report Card, produced by the organization Meals on Wheels Research Foundation, found that hunger in the U.S. for those over age 60 has increased 78% since 2001. Interestingly those most at risk of hunger were those age 60-69, rather than those over age 75, mainly among those earning less than $30,000. Here is the looming challenge. As old-style pensions disappear almost completely for retiring baby boomers, replaced by underfunded, volatile and insecure 401K savings accounts, as home equity returns to earlier levels very slowly, if at all, and as the political system threatens social security at the precise time that taxes ought to be increased not just to stabilize but increase social security, I can see a day coming when legions of elders face real hunger. Something needs to be done to prevent this from happening. The threat is very real.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist, author, speaker, consultant, Founder of Futurist.com, and founder and Curator of DoTheFuture.com. To arrange for a speech, workshop or consultation contact Futurist.com.

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November 28th, 2011 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Science & Tech | Comments Off

Autonomous Vehicles Could be the Future

It is possible that autonomous vehicles could be the flying car of the 2030′s – I am forever answering the question “what ever happened to the flying car envisioned in the 1960′s?”. But this concept car, imagined by Charles Rattray, captures many of the concepts I first heard about when working with the U.S. Federal Highway Administration on a project to identify advanced research topics. The experts they gathered in 2006 indeed foresaw intelligent highways, vehicles that communicate with each other as well as with the infrastructure, some roadways at least that could transmit energy to the vehicle, and computing intelligence smart enough to navigate cars without driver involvement. Mr. Rattray incorporates all of these ideas, and more, into his proposed vehicle. Check out his video below and also a description of the car in Gizmag.



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