This fall the planet Earth surpassed an estimated 7 billion citizens. While just a billion or so own automobiles, that number is expected to more than double by the year 2050. Already the average driver must contend with traffic congestion, air pollution, and high fuel prices. What will the world look like with twice as many cars on the road?
Ford Motor Company Chairman Bill Ford Jr. took to the stage in Spain this weekend at the Mobile World Conference to deliver a keynote speech dubbed the “Blueprint For Mobility.” In it, Ford lays out a world where automobile manufacturers and telecommunication services work hand-in-hand to integrate connectivity into cars, bicycles, and pedestrians in an effort to reduce and manage traffic
If we do nothing, says Ford, we all face a world of “global gridlock” where unprecedented traffic jams up the highways and byways we all use everyday. In places like Los Angeles and New York City, the average consumer spends upwards of $800 and wastes more than 50 hours per year sitting in traffic.
While the near-term solutions will rely on integrated apps and cloud-computing to help drivers avoid traffic jams and find nearby parking spots, long term, Ford sees an integrated network whereby bicycles, pedestrians, and cars are all managed. One day, he sees autonomous cars becoming commonplace, driving and parking our cars for us.
It’s a different vision of the future than one might expect from the chairman of a major car company, to even acknowledge that pedestrians and bicycles exist. It’s even crazier that he is basically saying that his products will be the source of major societal strife and congestion if major efforts to cull traffic are not made. To me it is also an affirmation that even car companies understand the generational shift that is happening as young people look to get away from cars and seek alternative methods of transportation, and that cars cause as many (if not more) problems as they solve.
I suggest reading through the whole press release on the next page. There’s a lot of food-for-thought in it, and I’d welcome you all to leave your impressions in the comments section