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Brief Published: 14 Nov 2013

Intelligence Squared: Smarter Mobility


“Smarter mobility” – from car-sharing marketplaces to data-sharing autonomous cars – was the focus of an event held by UK-based debate organiser Intelligence Squared and supported by Shell last week (November 4).

Speakers presented a wide range of scenarios that transport companies should plan for, including:

Multi-Modal Cities: As they become more densely populated, cities will need to accommodate several modes of transport, argued Robin Chase, founder of peer-to-peer car service Buzzcar.

  • Chase proposed a multi-modal transport system that would allow drivers to choose the mode of transport best suited to their journey’s purpose. In this system, vehicles would be shared.
  • She envisaged public transport as an on-demand, door-to-door service, which would reduce traffic volume.

Collective Intelligence: Robotics and information engineering will define the future of transport, according to Oxford University professor Paul Newman, who is leading a project to develop a self-driving car.

  • Onboard computing will make cars self-reliant, thereby removing the need for navigation systems such as GPS. Instead, cars will learn from their drivers and by mapping their surroundings with sensors and cameras.
  • Autonomous vehicles will become more efficient over time, as they learn from data shared with other vehicles. This data could also shape insurance packages. Information on how and where a person is driving could be monitored to prompt autonomous driving during difficult stretches of road.

Shared Space: British urban designer Ben Hamilton-Baille’s low-tech solution to reduce city congestion was to remove street furniture and traffic controls.

  • By reclaiming street space as public space, this concept encourages intuitive negotiations between drivers and pedestrians as they travel.
  • Design cues, such as road layouts that hint at roundabouts and junctions, promote intelligent driving. 

For more on ultra-efficient vehicles and transport systems, see the Stylus report Future Mobility: Move Award Winners.