A rendering of the Next Future Transportation system in action (Credit: Next Future)
Part mass transit, part personal mobility, the Next Future Transportation system is designed to act as an efficient, coordinated network that shuttles folks from door to door. Still in the early concept stages, the design features a series of modular, self-driving electric pods that pick passengers up on demand and link together in bus-like form on the journey to get each of them from point A to B as efficiently as possible.
Italian industrial designer and Next Future Transportation Inc. founder Tommaso Gecchelin imagines our transportation future combining the best attributes of current transportation methods while trimming some fat. He envisions a set of self-driving modules that operate on existing roadways. Unlike current public transportation systems, there are no defined routes, and users order up transportation at the touch of a mobile app. Each module measures 8.8 feet (2.7 m) in length and holds up to 10 people (six seats plus standing room for four).
Because the Next Future system relies on existing roadways, it avoids the need for any added physical infrastructure, such as rails. Instead, its infrastructure is purely virtual, consisting of an advanced, cloud-based routing system that not only drives the autonomous pods to and fro but also coordinates all pods in the system, both private and public, linking swarms together wherever possible to cut traffic, optimize occupancy and ensure the most energy-efficient performance.