At the COG Annual Meeting, area officials celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Transportation Planning Board by reflecting on the region’s transportation accomplishments and considering the possibilities for the future.
Glen Hiemstra, Futurist.com Founder and CEO, delivered the keynote address, which focused on technological advancements and their impact on car ownership, accidents, travel patterns, and urban and transportation planning in the future.
“What is our preferred future?” asked Hiemstra of the more than 200 officials and guests in attendance. “How do we use and accommodate transportation so that we get a more preferred future than we’d otherwise have?”
Hiemstra predicts that the future of transportation will revolve around everything becoming more intelligent—meaning the network of objects (electronics, sensors, etc.) connected to the internet and able to collect and exchange information will continue to grow, connecting the “human, natural, and built worlds.”
While it will become easier to move “bits,” there will still be a need to move people. Hiemstra reasons that over the next five to ten years, every regulatory body—including jurisdictions in metropolitan Washington—will be confronted with whether or not to allow driverless vehicles.
“It is inevitable that driverless vehicles will become real as they become cheap enough, technologically feasible, and if the regulatory environment allows them,” he said.
According to Hiemstra, it is also likely that the transportation system will increasingly become electric, due to the growing popularity and declining price of solar and improvements in the processes for storing energy for vehicles and the overall electric grid.
“Put a question mark after everything that I’ve said about the future, because the future is not a fixed entity,” said Hiemstra. “The future is not just something that happens to us, the future is something that we do. The ultimate question for the Transportation Planning Board for the next fifty years is, ‘What kind of future will you want to do?’”