Comfortable driving: when your car connects to the world
Technology and Business
Do you hate traffic jams? You’re annoyed by the daily drag of parking? Imagine a world where you are free from these nuisances – because your connected car does all the work for you. A life-changing scenario for frequent drivers like Nader Taghavi.
Every now and then, Nader Taghavi sits for hours on end in infuriating rush hour traffic and starts to envision the future. “How convenient would it be if I didn’t have to do this anymore?” Taghavi finds himself saying: “Just think what I could do with the time gained…”
Taghavi (49) was born in New York, but has lived in Switzerland for 30 years. He is an architect and interior designer. Creativity is essential to his profession. And so is driving.
His work invariably requires road trips from his office in Zurich to construction sites all over Switzerland, or even to exhibitions in Milan or Paris. “I’m always on the move. And often I cannot take the train because I need to transport my work drawings.” However, the hours spent behind the wheel are “precious time wasted,” he says.
WHEN INSPIRATION STRIKES ON THE ROAD
Taghavi specializes in designing modern work spaces for large enterprises – structures which facilitate teamwork and maximize employee convenience. He translates a company’s vision into architecture and design. For Taghavi, inspiration is key.
“That’s why I actually like being in the car. I have time to think and I sometimes get really good ideas during the ride. But I would love to instantly be able to sketch them on my laptop! If cars were to drive themselves, creativity and road traffic would no longer be mutually exclusive.”
What may have seemed a distant vision just a few years ago is now shaping up to become reality within the next decade. Automated driving promises to make car rides much more comfortable and productive by taking away the burden of having to drive the vehicle. It will change the way we perceive and use our car.
A vehicle will no longer be a simple means of transport. It will transform into a space for living and working.
TRAFFIC JAMS: A NEW HOTBED FOR PRODUCTIVITY
The effects of automated driving will be manifold. Take the nuisance of gridlocks, for example. Car drivers in the USA alone spent 6.9 billion hours stuck in traffic jams in 2014 – costing the American economy an estimated $160 billion. And these are only the financial consequences.
Research indicates that average anxiety levels begin to rise after the first 15 minutes of the commute to work. “When I’m stuck in traffic, it just stresses me out,” Taghavi says.
Once intelligent cars can take over full control in such situations, drivers will be able to reclaim that time completely: to eat lunch, watch a movie, take a nap – or just get things done. “Of course,” he continues, “I could get most of my administrative tasks done during the ride: answer e-mails, make phone calls or prepare for meetings.” This saves precious time for the actual design work.
In addition, fully automated driving has the potential to significantly reduce congestion by increasing the traffic flow and lowering accident rates. For instance, automated vehicles will be able to connect to each other and form a platoon. Thus, they can safely run very closely to another, almost nose-to-tail – at highway speeds.
Taghavi, who has a wife and two children, lets his mind wander: “We really like to travel. But those gridlocks always mean stress for the parents and the kids get bored. How awesome would it be to just drive off without the risk of getting stuck in traffic? Or to play cards or a board game with the kids during the ride? Our vacations would start the moment we enter the car.”
PARKING PAIN – A THING OF THE PAST
Parking is another nuisance that will be remedied by automated and connected cars. Cars parking themselves with the driver inside is one thing (they can already do that), but vehicles literally parking themselves without the need for any input from or indeed even the presence of the driver is another! In the near future, we will be able to simply hop out of our cars in designated transfer zones and send the car off to park itself.
This will be possible because your intelligent car will communicate with the parking lot infrastructure. Thus, it will find its own allocated space in the parking lot and park there. This, combined with intelligent parking space detection systems, will dramatically reduce the time needed for our daily searching and parking operations.
In a nutshell, automated driving has the power to significantly improve the quality of all of our lives. Nader Taghavi longs for the day of its arrival – for the sake of his work, sure, but also for the sake of his well-being, as he admits: “Sometimes, I’m totally exhausted after work. I imagine what it would be like to already start relaxing in the car. Listening to my favorite music, maybe even having a drink - that would really be something!”
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