The STRR Act (Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform) passed in the House last month, paving the way for funding an overdue upgrade to our country’s vast transportation system. The bill, which focuses on improving infrastructure, reforms, and refocused national priorities, will welcome innovation to make our system safer and improve our quality of life. This bill, if taken advantage of correctly, could and in-fact should, radically change our transportation system as we know it.
Passing the STRR Act is a great step towards implementing smart infrastructure and encouraging new innovations like connected cars and autonomous vehicles, but what it lacks is a specific focus on network efficiency. The same number of driverless cars for example, replacing ‘regular’ cars, will still lead to the same congestion levels.
Extended railroad systems, updated freight and highway projects, and improved surface transportation are crucial to jumpstarting a new smart transportation system, but think how our system could be transformed by connecting all these aspects together with demand, to provide an optimized transportation network that requires less moving parts pun intended). Smart cars might power this new system, but real-time dynamic efficiency is what will enable the system to live up to expectations of less congestion, waste and emissions, while providing better results.
As we move into a future of driverless cars and connected transportation, we need an optimized network layer operating above the smart infrastructure to maximize efficiency. This layer could tell us exactly how many cars we need to have on the road to meet demand while not using additional resources. This would mean less emissions and resources needed to keep up with customer demand.
A focus on efficiency in the planning stages of implementing a smart transportation system is critical. As more and more companies invest in driverless cars, we can expect more cars to hit the streets which means more waste and more traffic.
But, if we have an optimized system in place – if we implement the most efficient network to operate these new innovations – we can expect a better quality of life as we enter this new era of transportation.