Extrapolation is if you extend a message beyond its actual range. Mostly, you can only extrapolate after having interpolated.
Even in mathematics, this is not easy. Now I will try and give a soft future prognosis about our life with mobility. I will not use mathematics but only logical and cynical ideas.
I imagine what digital land-based vehicles, also known as cars, will look like?
As always, I start with (German) Wikipedia. Currently, you will find the following description:
The term autonomous vehicle defines a car or other vehicle that can drive, steer and park without being influenced by a human driver (highly automated driving – Hochautomatisiertes Fahren) or autonomous driving – Autonomes Fahren).
Well, I wish it were that easy. Initially, when I was thinking of an autonomous car, I believed that such a vehicle comes and picks me up and looks a little like a scooter. Like the ones we drove as children on the fairtground. And I hop in and the car brings me to where I wanted to go and that was it.
Then I read the newspapers (especially the section Mobilität of the SZ weekend edition). And I found out that such a car must be able to do a lot more.
- It is fully digitalized. That means I can do all the things I can do at home with WLAN. That is especially nice if we – the car and I – are standing in the queue. Then I can do all my work sitting in the car – just like in the home office – and that means I will not need to go to work by car.
- The car is probably also supposed to be able to fly. That will be quite necessary if you wish to avoid all the queues. And because I want to take the direct route. Without having to zigzag around on the streets.
- During longer drives, you will also want to sleep in the car. For instance if you drive from Munich to Hamburg at night. Basically, I want to go from Munich to Westerland. Except that I will hardly get to Sylt sleeping Because they have the Hindenburg-Damm with the old railway. So here is another barrier for the car of the future. Naturally, this is not a problem for the flying car, which would simply fly over it. The problem will start when I need (for me and my companion) a seat that is about as comfortable as that in the business class or first class of a plane. In other words: it cannot be a city scooter. Instead, it would have to be closer to a sort of camper. On the other hand, if I have this kind of car, then I will not need a hotel. The parking place I need does not have to be close to the destination, either. The car can easily take me there on the next morning. And then it flies away and returns when I want to go back to Munich. All these things are supposed to happen through digitalization.
So I need some kind of drone around a VW bus. After all, this new wonder vehicle does not need to be owned by me.
We have ”shared economy“, don’t we? So I can order the vehicle by a simple click – regardless if it is a city scooter or a camper. Then it will come, neatly cleaned and prepared for the trip. It will not matter if I want to go to the coffee shop around the corner or travel far. And I will enter and we can start.
What a nice new world!
But it will probably only be for the very rich. For those who, in former times, were nobility and bishops. Who used to have the coaches and horses. Along with the coachmen. As part of a feudal life.
The “normal people” will be taken to central points from central points by “people movers” (what they used to call public transportation). And then they have to walk the rest of the way or else take electric rollers, skateboards and other mobility toys that will then have been invented. Provided the Federal Minister of Transport will find a solution. Currently, that is not what seems to happen.
And then I meet a young software engineer. He went to get a job at BMW, because programming an autonomous land-based vehicle is allegedly one of the few remaining challenges for computer scientists today. And, like many analysts and decision makers, he still believes in the autonomous car.
I have my doubts about the nice new future world. My reasons are quite banal. For instance, I believe that, in times of climate change, impoverishment, destruction of infra structure and social problems, we will have other things to worry about. Also, I am not sure that the people who live in precarious situations find it so great if they see how the rich are flown through the air in luxury limousines.
They say that a university (Universität) situated somewhere in the ex-GDR already designed the first autonomous bicycles. Based on tricycles (because it seems that autonomous bicycles are probably too hard to make).
Well, I can only say how much I like the good old individualized mobility on two wheels. I would gladly tolerate e-bikes (which brings us back to motorized individualized mobility MIV). But it should be reasonably motorized with true joy in driving.
(Translated by EG)