A Look Back at Meeting of the Minds Workshop Tour #3: How Future Mobility Solutions Can Co-Exist: The Complete Street of 2030
The workshop’s welcome briefing from NextEnergy’s President – Jean Redfield – laid out a clear message for this workshop tour: the challenges facing clean/smart energy are, to a growing extent, converging with the challenges facing clean/smart mobility. During the workshop tour, more than 45 Meeting delegates moved through multiple demos and facilities, including:
- Toyota’s zero emission hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle (which will be commercially available next summer) and the DARV vehicle: the newest generation Driver Awareness Research Vehicle – DARV 1.5 – which is part of the company’s ongoing research into the dynamics of driver distraction. The DARV 1.5 uses advanced technology, including Microsoft’s Surface and Kinect and custom biometric software and algorithms by Infosys, to help the driver, passengers and the vehicle achieve safer driving.
- Qualcomm’s connected vehicle: A demo of Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging was provided by Chris Borroni-Bird, VP of Strategic Development at Qualcomm. He also showed the benefits of vehicle-to-pedestrian communications systems using Dedicated Short-Range Communications technologies.
- NextEnergy’s Microgrid Demo: It showcased vehicles connected to the grid, but beneath this were a host of emerging solutions that will enable real-time dynamic interactions between devices, vehicles, the network, the driver, the power-supplier, and much more.
- The Vehicle-to-Home Demo: Using a modified electric vehicle showed how vehicles can “talk” to their owners and connect with homes.
The workshop session focused on the future of the city street. Discussions benefited from the varied viewpoints offered by Meeting of the Minds delegates based in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. For many of the delegates, what was seen during this NextEnergy tour is making possible something much greater than cleaner energy powering more intelligent vehicles. It lays the groundwork for a new complete streets paradigm to emerge – one where a diversity of owners and a diversity of vehicles change the whole pattern of urban development. With good algorithms, none of today’s messiness (e.g, undifferentiated streets) need be tolerated. Vehicles of varied types can move much more easily on and through streets that change at different times of day to enable very different (and more sensible) kinds of traffic flows.
One key here is that streets are the interface, with the goal being a more fluid street characterized by easy lane changing. E-vehicle priority lanes are an early example. Now imagine lanes with “smart road markings”, visible on the road itself, that convey critical information to drivers and to intelligent vehicles. One moment it’s nighttime and the incentives are for parking; on Sundays two-third are set aside for bikes; etc.
The idea of “street” may become outmoded, especially as we adopt more integrated land-use strategies that encourage appropriate thoroughfares and better mobility options. One example: Minnesota now has thoroughfares that are part of the infrastructure network and these are not segregated as streets. Taking back the streets will require new tech, changing basic zoning and regulatory systems, and shifting user behaviors.
Some big choices lay ahead – and the Meeting delegates participating in this workshop agreed that we have many options that require us to carefully think through the implications, both short-range and long-range.