You have probably noticed that electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more common. Charging stations for EVs are popping up all over the place. You might be worried about the future of your own beloved internal combustion engine (ICE) car, or maybe you’ve been thinking about shifting to an electric car.
One thing’s for sure, the shift of our whole transport system to EVs is underway. There will be a few exceptions to this; the main one being a shift to hydrogen for certain uses such as long haul flight. But one thing’s for certain; EVs will soon dominate.
The other aspect of the transport revolution that you will have heard of is the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI will become increasingly integrated with our lives, transport included. Cars will become more like computers on wheels with all the cars and indeed all of everything, connected to each other. Everything can talk to everything else, if need be.
So now put these two things together – EV personal transport with AI.
What does the future look like now for the personal car?
The year is 2035.
You’re sat at home watching the TV. You’ve told a friend that you’ll be around to see them this afternoon. ‘I better go in about half an hour’ you think to yourself. You pull out your phone and go to your favourite car app. After a few clicks on the app, you have ordered and paid for an EV AI car for the trip. You don’t own a car, because you don’t need to – you’ve got the app. It’s far cheaper than owning your own car. Why pay for a car that for most of the time just sits parked, doing nothing. A few miles away from your location is an EV AI car park where cars not in use go to charge up. The car you’ve booked is currently parked there. Its computer wakes up. It’s only 10 minutes from the charging station to your house. The car’s computer detects road works and a little congestion and decides to add 5 minutes to the journey time to your house. So 15 minutes after you ordered it, the car unplugs itself from its charging station in order to begin the projected 15 minute journey to your house, aiming to arrive at exactly the time you requested.
Bang on time, the car arrives. Your phone makes a few pleasant noises to let you know that the car has arrived.
You grab what you need and head into your driveway. Waiting for you is an elegant piece of modern transport technology. Black and sleek. With few more clicks on your phone, the car unlocks to let you in. From now on, all commands are verbal.
“Good afternoon, jerk-wad.” Says the car.
You’ve already programmed the AI car fleet app to refer to you in a variety of insulting terms. You find it funny. You’ve also requested that it uses the voice of Peter Griffin from Family Guy.
The door opens to let you in. The interior is clean as always and has a pleasant smell. AI cars can detect misuse by a user and if cars are left dirty, with rubbish left behind, they drive themselves to a cleaning station for a service. The previous user then gets the cleaning bill.
Inside the car, there is no steering wheel. Also there are no instrument panels and no dashboard. If you want anything, you just ask the car.
Some cars have two sets of double seats; one facing forwards and one facing backwards. This means that a party of four people can all sit facing each other.
The car you have requested is smaller and so cheaper to hire with a large seat in the back only.
“Hey ding-dong, are we still going to Doncaster?” asks the car.
“We are indeed.” You reply.
“Well, buckle up and I’ll set off.”
You put on the seat belt and as soon as you are secure, the car quietly pulls away and starts the journey.
“Hey car, could you deploy the TV screen?” you ask.
“Sure thing, nit-wit. What would you like to watch? It’s an hour and a half drive, so might be a little short for some movies.”
A large plasma screen unfolds from the car ceiling.
“Could you display my Netflix account?”
You select ‘Game of Thrones’ and pick up where you left off.
“Car, could you black out the windows please?”
The cinematic experience envelops you.
After 15 minutes or so, the car has joined the motorway. Nearly all of the other cars are EVs with AI. As the AI cars are all linked to each other and all talk to each other they can drive in a long line, almost like a train, virtually bumper to bumper, mere centimetres apart, at high speed and in complete safety. This slip-streaming increases efficiency. It’s the default setting. It might be that you don’t want to be in the ‘road train’ and want to admire the view as you travel. This is an option.
Half an hour later, you remember something.
“Hey car, I forgot to start my dishwasher, could you start it for me?”
“Sorry shit head, apparently, you didn’t close the door on the dishwasher properly.”
After an hour and a half or so, two episodes of Game of Thrones and a Zoom meeting, you arrive at your destination.
“We’re here, dumb-ass.” Says the car as it parks up and opens the door.
You’re beginning to grow tired of the insults – the joke has worn thin – and you make a mental note to change the settings on the app. But you’ll forget, just like last time.
“No problem and thanks for using the app, knob-head. Would you like to rate your experience now or later on the app?
“Yeah, yeah, 5 stars” you say just to shut it up so it leaves more quickly.
“Enjoy the rest of your day, dick-wad. Goodbye.”
The door closes and the car drives off, pausing briefly to allow a cat to cross the road.
The car’s various internal sensors notice that you’ve dropped some popcorn. It heads for a cleaning station. You will get a bill, but it won’t be for too much.
After cleaning, the car calculates where in the network it is most likely to be required next and heads for an appropriate charging station. Upon arrival, it connects to a charger.
Few people own cars in 2035, except occasional enthusiasts who cling to their classic ICE cars. Why bother own a car, why have the expense when you can summon one whenever you need one and for a fraction of the price? Consequently, there are far fewer cars on the road. Congestion is a thing of the past, partly due to lower car numbers, but also due to the AI cars all knowing where each other is and how they can best integrate all of the required journeys, as well as the ability to drive safely and quickly, bumper-to-bumper. Air quality is greatly improved.
Just like most things in 2035, the EV AI fleet runs on wind, solar and tidal power. Nuclear fusion is still 20 years away… just like it always is.
And the climate change emergency? Switching to a global fleet of EVs along with renewable energy meeting most of our energy demands, the problem is well on the way to being solved. The world’s forests are being replanted, drawing down huge amounts of carbon.
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