The Decade of the Dashtop

I had the privilege of giving a 3-minute TEDx talk at a Toronto event called TEDx IB York, yesterday 2010.11.11. I used the word Dashtop in the title to play on high-tech history of desktop-laptop-palmtop that I allude to in the talk.

Here is the text (co-written with Lukas van der Kroft and with a nod to Tom Vanderbilt for the Manhattan horses).  I will add the Youtube link when it becomes available in a few days.

It’s 1870. I’m a driver in Manhattan. The speed limit is 5mph. But I ignore that. I seldom yield to anyone. My horses stink. And the kind I drive trample 200 pedestrians to death every year.

It’s 2010. I’m a driver trapped in congestion. I’m wasting time and fuel. I’m polluting. I’m texting people that I will be late. I am poking at my GPS to find another route. And, I am beginning to hate cars.

The number of vehicles on the planet will double in 25 years, but roads will expand by less than 10%. Since is impossible to build our way out of congestion cars and roads need to be much smarter to process more travelers and more trips. Twentieth century driving will go away just like Manhattan’s 19th-century horses did.

Partial solutions won’t work. We expect electric vehicles and smart grids to improve the environment, but they will also add to congestion and wipe out the fuel tax. And that threatens the sustainability of our roads. So we also need to re-think fueling infrastructures and the way we pay for road use.

Extraordinary innovation at the dashboard will address congestion and make transportation safer and sustainable in the new century. Historically, high-tech innovation has moved through cycles of feature-glut-followed by-consolidation-then by-availability. In the 90s it was laptops. Last decade it was smart phones.

What’s up next is the decade of the connected vehicle.  We’ll see a wave of breakthroughs on our dashboards. Cars and infrastructure will begin to collaborate over 4G networks.

Real-time speed, location, heading and other measurements about cars around you will become critical to a revolution in safety and mobility.  We will rely less on driver attention and field of vision. Our dashboard will know what’s around the corner as well as miles away. It will handle so many tasks we will be supervising our car rather than driving it.

Your new dashboard will enable a massive leap in roadway utilization. It will balance congestion, desired arrival time, emissions, right of way, and signal timing. It will have advanced systems for speed control, collision avoidance, convoys, lane departure, and parking assistance. These are just a taste of the feature glut intended to keep your trip safer and easier and to consume less road space.

Your dashboard will manage road use payments to replace the fuel tax. These will be based on usage patterns: where, when, what, and the distance you drive. And this will force gas taxes, tollbooths, parking meters, and even your car insurance to follow Manhattan’s horses into history.

You may even fall in love with your car all over again.

Thank you.

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