The future as seen yesterday - today a reality
Going on holiday was never as relaxed as this: the whole family is sitting down to a board game while the car drives itself – as shown in this picture from 1956. Back then, the possibility of turning this into reality lay in the distant future, but the idea behind it was obvious.
The car expands its potential, becoming mobile living space. The vision of automated driving has been around for almost as long as automobiles themselves, mostly as a scenario in science fiction novels and films. Yet as early as in 1939, the vision was very close to reality. At the New York World’s Fair, the idea was presented in the “Futurama” exhibition. By 1960, it was said, this should be realized.
That was primature, as it turned out. Yet in the 1950s, engineers were already developing the first concepts for fully automated long-distance drives on the American highways. Their idea was to combine infrastructure measures and vehicle technology: before setting off, one simply had to inform the traffic control center of one’s destination, and the automated journey could begin – in vehicles powered by gas turbines. Even then the guiding notion was already that future technologies should offer people a degree of comfort and safety that had never been dreamt of before.
Developments have now progressed a long way. Today’s systems use signals from a wide variety of sensors around the vehicle to support the driver. Modern cars have a large number of advanced driver assistance systems that help the driver in driving and parking situations, and can even take over some tasks completely.
For example, today the lane departure warning system already alerts the driver to an unintended lane change. More advanced systems keep the vehicle in the lane automatically. In addition, there are parking systems that inform the driver of a suitable parking space and if desired can actually aneuver the vehicle into it.
The future as seen yesterday is set to become reality today and tomorrow. Besides, automation is more than the realization of a long-cherished vision. It lays the foundation stone for successfully overcoming the many and varied global challenges for mobility.
The mobile world of tomorrow
The world of tomorrow will be urban
The year 2007 marked a historic shift in the history of mankind. Since that time, around the world more people have been living in towns and cities than in the country.
This development cannot be stopped. By 2050 the proportions will be 70 to 30. But the cities themselves have changed too – they have become megacities. Since antiquity, even the large metropolises failed to exceed the number of one million inhabitants, and it was only in the mid-twentieth century that New York broke through the barrier of ten million inhabitants. Today that is no longer unique. There are already 28 megacities with over ten million inhabitants (see figure), and the number is expected to swell to around 40 by 2030.
Urbanization, and in particular the emergence of megacities, reflects the growth in the global population and economy. Mobility and transport form the backbone for society’s increasing prosperity and people’s greater participation in it. At the same time, managing traffic in these urban agglomerations represents a special challenge because more and more people live not only in the towns themselves, but also in the surrounding areas, and they commute between home and work every day. The towns continue to expand, and urban agglomerations themselves turn into cities.
In developing countries and emerging economies in particular, many towns and cities are growing so fast that infrastructural measures and urban planning can hardly keep up. The most visible consequence is long traffic queues and too few parking spaces. This means that time is lost and it also annoys the drivers. If the traffic does not flow, trade and productivity also suffer, which has negative effects on the economy.
The world of tomorrow is automated
Increasing traffic density – that is, the sum of all road users in a traffic flow at one point in time on a particular stretch of road – is not limited to the emerging economies and the Asian megacities. It represents a worldwide challenge – here in Germany as well. Here drivers already spend 36 hours on average in congestion per year (see figure). In some towns and metropolitan areas the figure is much higher: in and around Stuttgart and Karlsruhe, for example, it is in fact over 60 hours.
Vehicle density is not going to decrease in the future. The German Federal Ministry of Transport expects that the number of passenger cars on German roads will rise by at least 10 percent by 2025. One reason for this is that we are becoming older all the time. And those who are no longer very good on their feet will tend to use the car or some other form of motorized transport. For freight traffic, the ministry actually forecasts a rise of 30 percent. And the trend is similar for the European Union. Freight traffic on Europe’s roads is predicted to increase by up to 80 percent as compared with today’s figure. The global passenger car fleet will almost double by 2030.