Will we have flying cars by 2030

Transport 2030: City tolls instead of flying cars

For Carolin Frick, the matter is clear: Many city dwellers actually no longer need their own car. However, she does not live directly in Frankfurt, but on the outskirts of the Main metropolis and therefore occasionally has to use her own car. In the future, however, the co-founder of “ioki” hopes to be able to access driverless minibuses for trips into the city, which she calls up on her smartphone and then shares with other people who are traveling in the same direction.

Autonomous buses and cars that scurry almost silently through the city. Air taxis whiz across it, taking up to four people to their destination by the shortest route. Larger groups of people take a zeppelin. Or they go to the next Hyperloop station in order to squeeze themselves into a kind of can and have them transported from one place to another by pneumatic tube, almost at the speed of sound. There are no longer highways, former road tunnels are used to grow mushrooms and vegetable sprouts.

Car written in lower case

There is no shortage of visions for the traffic of the future. In the vicinity of the IAA, the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, they are booming again. For example, the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech) presented the study “New autoMobility” (no typo - the car is actually written in lower case in the title), which outlines the future of networked mobility. Car sharing and self-parking cars save space here, which is free for living and living. Automated trains travel on tracks that are still closed today. And traffic lights have more or less been abolished in the cities. Because the road users - drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, trams - are in constant contact with one another in real time and regulate who has right of way. "This is how today's daily traffic chaos turns into a cooperative mixed traffic in which the participants interact much better with one another and show consideration for one another," says a press release.

It would be nice.

Two years ago, at the same place, Johann Jungwirth gave a highly acclaimed lecture on the future of the city and traffic in a fully networked world. Jungwirth had recently switched from Apple to Volkswagen, where, as Chief Digital Officer, he was supposed to reinvent mobility, so to speak. A fleet of fully autonomous cars, electrically powered and permanently on the move in the city, according to his vision, would make the private vehicle completely superfluous in the near future - we were talking about five to seven years. Without suffering from mobility in the city.

Two years later, Jungwirth left the company again for Intel. And the dream of fully autonomous driving has moved further into the distance. "It will certainly not work in the next ten years," said VW Chief Technology Officer Frank Welsch over dinner in Frankfurt. At least nothing in the city: A system that can correctly recognize all movements and danger spots in a city and evaluate and reliably calculate the movements of people and machines is not in sight. There is also a lack of rules and regulations for the considerate coexistence of means of transport and road users. And in Germany on top of that, the super-fast 5G radio standard for data exchange in real time and across the board. So the end of the field?

City toll is coming

Not quite. The dream of fully networked and fully autonomously organized transport may be a few years or even decades longer in coming. Other things come faster. A city toll, for example. The acatech study mentioned is a bit of a clear statement. “For the comprehensive implementation of space- and time-dependent control strategies,” it says vaguely on one of the back pages, “new political framework conditions must be created. Above all, this requires sovereign regulations in order to coordinate the responsibilities between the federal government, the federal states and the cities. This includes enabling economic control mechanisms such as road pricing by the municipalities. “All right? Anyone who wants to drive into the city in their own car will soon have to pay for it. Depending on the time of day and the traffic jam, depending on the size of the vehicle, the type of drive and the emission class. The traffic jam lights that the city of Cologne would like to introduce in order to limit the number of commuters (with their own car) would therefore only be the beginning. It may even be necessary to apply for entry into the city by car in a few years' time - it will only be granted after comparison with the applicant's personal CO2 account. A joke? "Wait a minute," said a manager from the IT industry whom I met on the IAA tour. The technology for this is already available and can be installed quickly.

"The future of mobility begins now - and we are right in the middle of it," said Steffen Bilger, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Minister of Transport and member of the CDU, at the presentation of the Acatech study. Emil Gräber, Senior Consultant at the Berlin communications consultancy Joschka Fischer & Company, became even clearer in the EDISON trade fair talk on the subject of “Do we still need our own car”: “So politics must intervene to ensure more mobility with less traffic, sustainably and for everyone. The question of mobility is basically the question of the future. ”Above all, the flow of commuters would have to be steered in a new direction - out of the car and into public transport.

On Friday, the so-called climate cabinet of the federal government, chaired by Chancellor Angela Merkel, wants to present a “large” package of measures so that Germany can achieve national and internationally binding climate targets. It will be interesting to see how politics intends to control traffic in the future: with the help of technology or with your wallet. I'll guess the latter.

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