"Wait, don’t touch the pedal!" I was speeding at 70 miles an hour toward a T-junction on a sunny day in Napa Valley. My friend had just bought a brand new Audi A-6, and we were taking it on a short wine-tasting trip. The car has "adaptive cruise control"—a radar-guide system that tracks your car against others on the road—and as I was approach the junction my urge to slam the breaks was growing, while my friend was urging me to trust this new technology. Three-hundred feet and still at full speed; 200 feet, cold sweat; 100 feet, the break engages, and the car smoothly decelerates to a crawling speed before stopping ten feet behind a car waiting at the red light. I never had a car drive me; it was my first experience of the mobility we are about to embrace in the near future.
We are shifting from Car 2.0 to Mobility 3.0. Electric vehicles, cruise control, web-connected cars, and many other electronic novelties are moving us closer and closer to a new era. Cars are becoming an accessory to our digital universe. Beyond "driver optional" cars, we are about to rethink the way we interact with cars.
Consider this: Why in the future would you have a need for electronic controls in your car? Simply plug your smartphone into what used to be the dashboard, and it becomes your interface. The car now communicates with an iCar app, which you can customize with your personal settings and preferences. Come to think of it, why would you own a car at all? As you connect your smartphone to the car, the iCar app takes over and programs the car—any car—to become yours. May be it would be better just to car hop: Rent a vehicle of your choice by the hour and reset it to be yours—your music, your seat ergonomics, your map destinations, etc.
Lastly, this can apply to any set of wheels, whether it be a bicycle or taxi. Just as your smartphone allows you to hop from one vehicle to another within minutes, you can do the same with a bicycle—locating it nearby, reserving it, logging in, and altering it to your needs.Imagine starting the night driving in a car with your date. You stop at a nice place for dinner and ditch the car (just the car) to continue exploring the town on bikes. You stop for a drink, one drink turns into four, and you ask the bartender to order driverless limo to take you home. Sound far-fetched? It really isn’t—all of these bits and pieces of technology exist, and soon they’ll be organized around your digital persona, which will fit neatly inside your phone.
[Image: Stuart Monk/Shutterstock]