Design Concept of the Day 2: Peterbilt SymbiotUX

November 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

peterbilt symbiotiUXAnd this year’s entrants in the Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge: 2014’s contenders have looked at how the technology of 2029 will transform the relationship between humans and vehicles, including sensual connections and predictive behaviours, with specific reference to interior design. Pictured: Peterbilt Motors’ SymbiotUX, anticipating vehicles operating together in symbiosis, with the truck driver taking a role more like that of an aeroplane pilot; other entries are the Quros Qloud Qubed, which learns the drivers’ habits and preferences and kicks into autonomous mode if the driver starts to behave irresponsibly or out of character; the Honda CARpet with a flexible, shape-shifting carpet and a control-ball interface; the Infiniti SYNAPTIQ driver’s bodysuit; and a Honda-Acura biometric mesh interior fabric which can be pushed or pulled to configure the car’s interior and adapt to driver preferences. Rundown and picture gallery at Form Trends; winner will be announced on Nov 20th.

Plus some for-Friday reading: a round-up of extended essays and recently-found, relevant (to me, anyway) academic journal papers…

  • Big data, predictive analytics (again) and transport planning/deployment: in-depth essay at City of Sound looks at start-ups such as Bridj (on-demand buses directed to where there are clusters of users) and Urban Engines, which collects data on congestion (including crowds on public transport) to calculate and offer real-time incentives for people to delay or alter their journeys and modal choice; Dan Hill discusses the risk that the likes of Uber and other personal/private services might compromise or destabilise public transit, and the idea of predictive analytics providing the ‘bridge’ between private transport (i.e. motor car) and public (operating to fixed and inflexible schedules). And… more on autonomous cars vs. public transit (no, the former won’t displace the latter – it’s a case of the right solutions in the right place, and down to population densities) from Jarrett Walker at Human Transit.
  • A study in Spain, France, Germany, the UK, Poland and Italy, with 600 participants in each keeping an online travel diary, found that not only did most people’s daily driving patterns (including at the weekends) suit the range of an EV, their parking habits – the time their vehicles spent parked-up – were fine for typical recharging times, and that this information could be used for predictive management of electricity demand across the EU. It did note, however, that in all of the countries surveyed, few drivers had access to off-street or private parking, thus recommending on-street and public infrastructure in residential parking areas and garages.
  • Air travel bucks the trend for the reducing of greenhouse gas emissions as urban density rises; and in metropolitan areas there is a trade-off between car ownership and air travel among middle-income groups. Air travel, it seems, is counteracting any GHG gains made by reduction of car travel, according to this paper from Finland.
  • China’s rapid growth in car usage, fuelled by its expanding middle class and consumer society, may be slowing: ‘peak’ vehicle-mileage has now been observed in traffic-clogged Shanghai and Beijing, reports this paper. Demand for driving is high amongst young people and women in particular, as well as from active older people, but this is mitigated by an ageing society in general.
  • The vested interests of neoliberal governance structures mean than EU policies on sustainable transport will fail, claims this paper: Stefan Gossling and Scott Cohen cite specific “transport taboos” such as Germany’s no-speed-limits policy on the autobahn and describe market distortion and externalization and subsidising of costs, unwillingness of people to change behaviour, the small number of “highly mobile” people in upper-income brackets who account for a disproportionate amount of travel, lobbying by automotive and aviation organisations, social inequalities and emerging different societal structures as factors putting up barriers to change.
  • Looking at the mobility behaviour of Generation Y/millennials: Debbie Hopkins and Janet Stephenson suggest that researchers could use an “energy cultures” framework to analyse the norms, practices and material culture of this group, the external influences acting upon these three sets of phenomena, the interactions between them and thus how behaviours are shaped. As yet, not empirically applied, but a few ideas (one for theoretical discussions, with a few useful references).
  • And conversely, US baby-boomers (born 1946-64): over the last decade, they have become less car-dependent, but this is a trend confined to urban-dwellers, who are walking and using public transport more, and who also make more social, recreational and utilitarian trips than their suburban counterparts (at least in the Boston area, where this study was carried out). And a broad migration of older adults to urban areas is, the researchers conclude, unlikely, so measures need to be taken including making public transport and walking more attractive to suburbanites, who are making fewer trips, but still driving.
  • Life-changes are  interdependent and dynamically-interacting with residential and transport choices/behaviour, according to this Japanese study using life history research methodology. The researchers identified four key life-trajectory biographies describing mobility – residential (relocation), household structure (i.e. marriage, birth of a child, divorce, children leaving home), employment/education (including retirement) and car ownership (and other tools for travel, i.e. bicycles) and plotted cause-effect relationships between them. Car ownership was more sensitive to residential mobility than to household structure and education/employment.

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