Unmanned.Life was invited to Estonia, ‘the most advanced e-society in the world’, to take part in a panel discussion at Latitude 59 this year; discussing ‘The Future of Mobility’ with HyperloopOne, BlaBlaCar and OSVehicle.
The Advisor of Digital affairs at the Government Office of Estonia, Marten Kaevats, led the discussion on the future of mobility not just considering the growing problem of overcrowded cities and CBD’s but also the existing problems with how we get from point A to point B in an environmentally friendly manner and how this could be accessible to everyone in the future.
What is the future of transportation?
A panel containing leading innovators from a car sharing enterprise (BlaBlaCar), an advanced ground based alternative to airplane travel (HyperloopOne), an open source autonomous car manufacturer (OSVehicle) and Unmanned Life, a software platform for autonomous drone fleets, of course have varied and conflicting ideas about the future of transportation and mobility in todays world. However there were some things the entire panel could agree upon:
“Any mode of transport can be defined by three pillars: type, terrain and level of autonomy,” says UML CEO Kumardev Chatterjee.
Type describing the mode of transportation (public or private; car or bus) Terrain describing the method of travel (land, sea or air) and the Level of Autonomy being self explanatory and a field of growing interest for many players in the transportation sector.
“No city or municipality is thinking about doubling the size of the roads leading in and out of our cities, but what some are considering are these ‘drone ways’, paths of air transportation that run slightly above our roads that will allow the flight of passenger carrying drones…you can come to Dubai and see this happen in a few months,” says Mr Chatterjee.
What is stopping us from reaching this vision?
The tone of the conversation quickly turned to regulations. How does such a new and advanced technology like passenger drones or even HyperloopOne deal with regulators now, how does this differ from those regulations binding the drone economy and what has to change?
“The human body experiences acceleration not speed, so we could take you up to 1,000km/h really super fast but we won’t, we will abide by the parameters set by the regulators,” says Srikumaar Ganesan of HyperloopOne.
Of course when considering the development of a singular and specialised technology such as HyperloopOne the regulations differ greatly compared to those already in-place internationally for UAVs and UGVs.
“It is up to entrepreneurs to educate the regulators,” Kumardev explains.
When the FAA first released regulations demanding all drones had to be individually registered in an online database, the framework was scrapped almost immediately by the federal court. Regulations are reactive, and this is the way it has to be to avoid creating a world with superfluous and infinitely restricting laws, so as the technology develops and finds its place in society so to will the regulation framework.
“When the first Ford cars hit the streets in the US there was a regulation that stated a motorised car could only be driven so long as it didn’t scare any horses…that should tell you something about regulation,” Mr Chatterjee states.
Whatever the future of mobility holds it is clear that open communication and close collaboration will play a key role, both between innovators and entrepreneurs as well as government bodies and regulatory committees.
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