Mobility on Demand: Inspiring Sustainable LifestylesBy Kadley Gosselin December 14, 2011
Today’s commuter is not confined to a car or train – during Latitude’s own Tech for Transit study, participants (regular drivers who were asked to give up their cars for a time) used five different modes of transit on average during their car-free week. Intermodal journey planners like Google Maps, JourneyOn, and Path2Go pull data from various transport systems allowing users to make choices about their transportation that save money, are good for the environment and are healthier – the top three reasons cited for using alternative transit in our Tech for Transit study.
Smart Cities Group
The MIT Media Lab Smart Cities Group is dedicated to developing innovative solutions to fine-tune and strengthen the systems that are used by at least 50% of the global population. The mobility sector of the project focuses on new technologies and solutions to improve the way people flow within cities. So far the group has developed and prototyped three new transportation options, which offer many benefits to users and cities themselves.
The Smart Car Redefined
Each product focuses on alleviating some of the problems most cities and their dwellers face: pollution, lack of parking, general congestion, costs and so on. The CityCar, a small, electric 2-seater vehicle meant for “intra-urban trips” can be folded and parked in a much smaller space, doesn’t rely on gasoline, and is more economical to manufacture. The Greenwheel is an in-wheel electronic motor to be attached to any bicycle for easier and faster travel. The motor helps power riders over hills and increase speed, making it easier and less exhausting to commute longer distances—and thereafore available to a much wider spectrum of users. The Roboscooter, a folding electronic scooter has a removeable battery, can be folded to occupy a smaller parking spot and can be recharged in its rack.
Sustainable Urban Mobility On-Demand
While the CityCar, Greenwheel and Roboscooter can provide city dwellers with a faster, cheaper, easier way to get around – the idea of owning such vehicles negates the overall concepts they are founded on. This is where smart fleet management systems like Bixi and Zipcar come in. A global trend towards access over ownership has already proven successful at offering travelers mobility when they want it, driven largely by the availability of real-time information via mobile phones.
The Smart Cities group also promotes their idea of “Sustainable Urban Mobility on Demand,” where CityCars, GreenWheels and Roboscooters are available on a rent-and-pickup basis, allowing users to move freely throughout the city using the mode of transportation best suited to them for convenient point-to-point travel. The convenience of an on-demand transportation system allows users to make more informed, eco-friendly, cost-efficient choices around how they travel without needing to plan ahead – often inspiring similar patterns in other areas of life. Latitude’s The New Sharing Economy study found that car-sharers share across significantly more asset categories than non-car-sharers, including things like clothing, food, books and other media, living space, and so on.
Image credit: Shawn Carpenter