China appears to be leading the charge in the future of transportation infrastructure — but it’s happening today. The government has constructed a test section of solar-panel comprised road, mapping sensors and electric-battery rechargers to create an “intelligent highway.” The design enables on-the-go recharging of electric-vehicle batteries as well for traffic updates and accurate mapping. Additionally, the embedded solar panels will be able to generate enough electricity to power highway lights and 800 homes.1
We tend to become embroiled in our day-to-day existence and forget there’s a whole world focused on innovating ways to make our lives easier. Thirty years ago, we never would have considered the convenience of carrying a mobile phone everywhere we go; too often we stayed at home so we wouldn’t miss an important phone call.
When considering innovation — whether cars, phones or computing technology — it’s worth asking how we can incorporate these advances into our lifestyles. For example, taking advantage of rear-camera systems in cars when backing out of the driveway or checking an online account to see whether we paid a bill are both particularly useful features as we get older. These innovations in technology have helped people feel more confident in their day-to-day tasks. As financial professionals, we are here to help you create a retirement income strategy through the use of insurance products that you can feel confident about.
In the U.S., a Missouri-based technology venture, Integrated Roadways, is working on its own version of “smart pavement.” This pavement system embeds a sensor, data and connectivity network designed to improve roadway safety and provide Wi-Fi in vehicles.2
In 2013, Elon Musk first proposed the idea of high-speed travel through vacuum tubes — kind of like a turbo-charged super train made safer by being completely surrounded by guardrails. The idea is being tested by several different entities, including a 19-passenger prototype developed in Dubai with speeds up to 700 mph. While the prototype looks like a small, sleek and upscale airliner, it does leave a bit to be desired — like windows (not functional when traveling encased in a tube). The trade-off, however, for this particular model is the ability to travel an 87-mile route in about 12 minutes — a trip that normally takes about 90 minutes by car.3
In the U.S., 76 percent of commuters drive to work alone, but ride-hailing and ride-sharing resources (such as Uber) are on the rise. However, these services have led to declining use of light-rail mass transit resources. This poses a conundrum, since more cars on the road continues to strain our reliance on gas, road and highway infrastructure rehabilitation and traffic congestion.4
In the Netherlands, the government is piloting ways to encourage more sustainable modes of transportation. Already a bicycle-friendly country, employers are driving an initiative to offer tax-advantaged pay incentives for workers who cycle instead of drive to work. This not only helps reduce reliance on foreign oil, but further eliminates traffic congestion. Employers and workers also benefit by not having to pay for parking. The health benefits can be substantial as well.5
1 Bloomberg. April 11, 2018. “China’s Built a Road So Smart It Will Be Able to Charge Your Car.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-04-11/the-solar-highway-that-can-recharge-electric-cars-on-the-move. Accessed June 30, 2018.
2 Robert A. Cronkleton. Kansas City Star. May 21, 2018. “Wi-Fi in the road? Kansas City tech start-up is wiring pavement for safety — and fun.” https://www.kansascity.com/news/business/article210853514.html. Accessed June 30, 2018.
3 David Freeman. NBC News. May 20, 2018. “New hyperloop photos show capsule’s sleek, windowless interior.” https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/new-hyperloop-photos-show-capsule-s-sleek-windowless-interior-ncna875266. Accessed June 30, 2018.
4 Leonid Bershidsky. Bloomberg. July 1, 2018. “Innovation Can’t Fix Urban Transportation’s Woes.” https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-07-01/ride-sharing-and-other-services-can-worsen-urban-transportation. Accessed July 1, 2018.
5 Harry Cockburn. Independent. June 20, 2018. “Netherlands considering paying people to cycle to work in effort to cut road congestion.” https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/netherlands-cycling-pay-use-bicycle-road-congestion-dutch-companies-a8408146.html. Accessed June 30, 2018.