All Good News — in the Long Run
Predictions are unfolding sooner than expected. It’s interesting how crises accelerate creativity and refine priorities. This time is no different. The COVID-19 crisis has hastened the need (and opportunity) for automation in every industry, including traffic and transportation.
As pictured above, drone delivery is advancing — this is my favorite technology (although a straw fell out along the way). And as an early-adopter of drone technology, I recognized the potential immediately. Unaffected by wind and connected to over a dozen satellites, drones “see” their surroundings and know exactly where they are at all times (even if I don’t).
Drone delivery is attainable. We were already on this path but current interest in reducing human contact has made drone delivery a fantastic application. Not only can drones deliver packages but also food or medical supplies in hard to reach and remote areas.
Autonomous vehicles provide similar benefits — one less human involved. This technology covers the spectrum from autonomous delivery trucks, the delivering of test samples to labs, transporting patients to doctor appointments, and even providing driverless/mobile convenience stores.
Don’t worry, you do not need a Tesla (or even a Neolix) — the next step is a conversion kit for what you already own. Kits provide the ability to “communicate” with similarly-equipped vehicles and provide significant safety benefits — but you still cannot take a nap, not yet.
The “forced” opportunities to work from home, either full time or part time, increased sharply (and necessarily). And when this crisis is behind us, a significant portion of the work-from-home population will continue — even when no longer “required.”
The above translates into one thing — less traffic on the roadway. And the traffic that does return, will be “different.” Peak hours will be flatter, destinations will shift a bit from work/shopping to residential/public spaces. The demand for widening roads and adding lanes diminishes. Instead, the priority will be to optimize what we already have (i.e., what we need). This means an increased emphasis on transportation safety for all modes — cars, bikes, pedestrians. And streamlining traffic flow by re-optimizing traffic signals — based on actual traffic volumes by time of day. This means no more waiting unnecessarily at red lights. This technology is available today — let’s do it.
Chet Skwarcan (traffic engineer, author, unique insights) with over 25 years of traffic engineering experience, solving traffic problems everywhere — online ideas available at TrafficEngineering.com/Services.