Transportation technology is changing the future of travel – now. Powered by Northrop Grumman


Future transportation could include high-speed trains, supersonic air travel, or even flying cars, but Gulu Gambhir, vice president, CTO of Northrop Grumman Technological services, thinks the biggest change is already underway: vehicle automation.

Autonomous cars, or autonomous vehicles, are essentially robots that carry passengers. They are revolutionizing commuting – a big part of life as a professional.

Transportation technology Needs an upgrade

As transportation technology continues to advance, cities could upgrade transit systems to modern versions that rely on electric vehicles, integrate ridesharing services like Uber, or even a combination of metro systems, autonomous vehicles and smart infrastructure.

Harvard business review estimates that by adopting innovative mobility technology by 2030, densely populated cities in developing economies could save $ 600 million per year, and advanced cities could save $ 2.5 billion per year.

With these compelling numbers, it looks like we are on the verge of a revolution in transportation technology. Ridesharing apps have already disrupted rental cars and the taxi industry. “For the first time, more people use Uber in New York than the city’s legendary yellow cab,” reported The New York Times.

Automation is inevitable

The new cars come with automated features like autopilot for highway driving, and several fully automated cars – no driver needed – are tested in the United States and around the world. Maybe in the near future, we won’t have to choose between investing in an expensive car and battling traffic, or being limited to the schedule of a crowded train to get to work every day. Instead, a whole new model of transportation could emerge.

We usually use our cars to get to work and then they sit idly by in a parking space all day. “For most of us, the duty cycle that our cars use is quite modest, less than 10 percent of the time on an annual basis,” Gambhir said.

Integration of systems thinking and transport

Gambhir envisions future models of transport where you can call up a personalized and reliable on-demand car. If you don’t need a driver, he says, you don’t even need a seat for the driver. Instead of a limousine with a passenger compartment in the back, a car could have a handful of individual compartments for riders. It would be similar to taking a bus, but in a more comfortable and personalized way.

“The vehicle could pick you up from your home and you could walk into a compartment that is all yours and have that personalized, almost limousine-like experience,” he said. The car can stop and pick up other passengers along the way, but the automated routes would still save time overall and you would spend your commute in comfort.

At Northrop Grumman, Gambhir’s team focuses on systems thinking, which means thinking not only about the initial implications of a system or process change, but also about second and third order changes that will follow.

Applying systems thinking to future transportation, he asked himself, “What are the implications for vehicle design in this model where you don’t have a driver and you don’t even want to own the asset but you still want to what kind of personalized experience? “

He suggested that in the future, instead of owning cars, people could have their own passenger compartments that a vehicle could pick up and transport to the destination. This change would have widespread effects.

Will the roads be safer?

According to the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 94% of serious crashes are due to human error, and about 35,092 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2015. If self-driving cars can eliminate human error, they could save tens of thousands of lives each. year.

“If algorithms are better than people and don’t make these human errors, and in general they do less, what are the implications? Gambhir reflects. “Auto insurance as we know it today is set to change fundamentally. With fewer accidents there could be fewer body shops in the future, ”he added.

Many familiar features of the current infrastructure could become obsolete.

Road to the future

In a future where commuters will subscribe to auto services instead of owning cars, we will not need as many parking garages or street parking spaces, and this space could be used at d ‘other purposes. Streetlights, for example, would be unnecessary and replaced by sensors.

“In the future, if we are really talking about an autonomous system, a car will not need to read a traffic sign or a speed limit sign… If it has a good up-to-date database of routes, he will know how to get from point A to point B optimally and safely, ”said Gambhir.

Adept at systems thinking? Interested in contributing to autonomous transport? Northrop Grumman is an innovator in these areas, and we are looking for the right people to join our team.

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