Within a couple of decades, the traditional commute of driving your car to the downtown office will seem as remote as taking a horse-and-buggy to the telegraph station.
That's the contention in this very cool web presentation by design company Ideo. Titled "Automobility," the site is a multimedia, interactive tour of what city life might be like in 15 years or so. The site predicts self-driving cars and delivery trucks will come on the scene soon, followed by a third wave of change in which the office itself could become mobile.
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In dense urban areas, self-driving cars will lock into a citywide grid system designed to make traffic flow with optimum efficiency. And since you won't be driving, you'll be more efficient as well. The interior design of cars will change so that each vehicle is a potential mini-office, with swiveling chairs and pop-up desks.
The site notes that the first instances of self-driving tech are already on the way. In 2015, Volvo cars will feature cruise control with steer assist, which will automatically follow the vehicle ahead if you're stuck in traffic. By 2020, Nissan expects to sell vehicles with autonomous steering, braking, lane guidance, throttle, gear shifting and unoccupied self-parking.
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Self-driving delivery trucks will also come on the scene within a decade, using a 24-hour delivery model that moves goods around during off-peak traffic hours. At night, municipal parking lots will turn into electric charging stations for the fleet.
Finally, the Ideo site imagines a future in which, rather than going to the office, the office comes to you. Commute times could be reduced by way of "Work on Wheels" sites in which modular office spaces can drive themselves to different parts of the city, depending on circumstances. For instance, that baseball parking lot that sits empty in the winter could house several city blocks worth of mobile office spaces.
It's an interesting glimpse into a potential future, with some delightfully trippy images. Check out the full presentation at Automobility, or here's a brief video preview: