As President Biden unveils a new infrastructure plan replete with technological considerations, it is perhaps more important than ever to look at how advancing car technologies change and impact infrastructure. Think of how fundamentally the building of interstate highways has altered the ways we move around the country.
From autonomous vehicles to electric ones, tech has changed the ways we drive (or don’t drive). This is sure to affect the way we build and adapt our roads and spaces to accommodate new habits. For instance, we’ll need much more common charging stations to adapt to an increase in electric vehicle (EV) use.
With all the advancements in car technologies, it is vital to understand which ones are most likely to change infrastructure and how. We’ll discuss these advancements and infrastructure implications here.
The Technologies Making a Difference
By the time this article is published, automotive technologies will have progressed. Maybe Elon Musk is installing an update on your Tesla even now. With the constant developments in vehicle tech, we are facing a future of highly computerized transportation, complete with full automation and sustainability measures.
Many of these technologies will require accommodations in infrastructure if they are widespread enough. The market for EVs, for example, appeared to be growing promisingly before the COVID-19 pandemic. If enough EVs are on the road, we’ll need frequently placed charging stations to ensure successful transportation.
Among the tech driving infrastructure needs are the following:
We are coming closer and closer to fully autonomous vehicles through the efforts of some major tech vendors. These self-driving vehicles are ready to take on transportation and delivery needs, but they come with their own pros and cons. Road performance may be increased, but cybersecurity can become a problem.
EVs represent a future away from fossil fuel dependency. As a result, all kinds of car manufacturers are racing to create the best and most efficient models of electric and hybrid vehicles. With 2021 set to be the year EVs go mainstream, cities need to consider upping the availability of charging stations.
Public Transportation Advancements
Even public transportation technologies are altering the ways we move about. Advancements on this front have been driven by the availability of data as well as 5G wireless connectivity. Now, smarter railways, autonomous valets, and data-driven route systems are all possible.
How New Tech Affects Infrastructure
These new technologies are already starting to impact infrastructures across the globe. As each innovation gains popularity, these changes will only become more prominent. This has major implications for economies, job creation efforts, and sustainability practices alike.
New tech like autonomous vehicles, EVs, and data-powered smart transit all require infrastructure changes. From widespread sustainability to new traffic lanes, here’s what this means for infrastructure development:
With the COVID-19 pandemic came a rise in remote work. This in turn allowed for more sustainable business practices through the reduction of fossil fuel emissions without workers needing to commute. Now, remote work looks to be a trend that is here to stay.
Add EVs to the mix, and we have an infrastructure ripe for sustainability. City planners can now implement self-sufficient communities designed for accessibility, cutting down on fossil fuel use from driving. What traveling still needs to be done in urban areas can be then easily managed with EVs and charging stations running on renewable energy.
But the implications of advanced tech aren’t always positive. Connected vehicles and public transportation operating over a network are liable against cyber threats. These vehicles and systems can be hacked, potentially compromising the safety of vehicle passengers.
Preventing self-driving vehicles from being hacked or even weaponized requires encrypted connections that are supported on public infrastructure. Connected devices operating on the Internet of Things (IoT) already power communication across fleets. Standards and supportive infrastructure will be required to combat cybersecurity threats with the widespread connectivity of our vehicles.
Finally, the very composition of our roads and highways is set to change with the broad adoption of new vehicle tech. From public transit systems that run autonomously to AI-piloted valets, our roads will need to host new types of cars with new methods of operation.
In the future, we could see lanes dedicated specifically to autonomous vehicles. Additionally, pick-up locations, charging stations, maintenance spaces, and more will have to answer the needs of future drivers and passengers.
A Safer, Cleaner Future
Advancing car technologies tell us a story about how the future might be. With the help of electric vehicles powered sustainably, we can build more efficient and cleaner infrastructure. But the changes will surely be costly.
To combat cybersecurity threats while innovating for a more connected transportation system, governments and private companies alike will have to address infrastructure needs for new vehicles. In the meantime, these technologies are already here or in trial stages.