Once upon a time, around 1985, the world discovered the ozone hole and it changed the way we think about our future. From now on, consumption, production and mobility are at stake. With the introduction of digital technologies in the early 21st century and with electricity as the main source for energy supply, our cities will grow free of pollution and congestion; green, clean, quiet and efﬁcient.
Visions of the future have always been a place of speculation about mobility. The 20th century proposed playful and even sometimes naive visions of ﬂying cars and underwater urban settings. Novel ways of ﬂying around galaxies, journeying to the centre of the earth, diving into submarine worlds, traveling through time, jumping through universes, tele-transporting, injecting into and voyaging through the blood stream of a human body populated our visions of the future. Maybe, in the long term, we will experience these magical modes of transportation. Yet the short-term future might be invisible ﬁrst.
Individual mobility of the future will strongly be linked to the developments of digitally augmented urban spaces, automated driving and personalized data exchange between the human body and its environment. Trafﬁc will be a constant ﬂow, with no more need for parked vehicles. Pedestrian areas will regain their lost space from cars. Repercussions will be seen on a social, economic and ecological level. Surveillance technologies will transform the city and its inhabitants into a ﬂow of data, blurring the boundaries between body, car and architecture.
New forms of perception will arise from digital technologies. They will permit for each one of us to selectively allow or reject individual aspects of the city. The car will transform from being a viewing machine for maneuvering in trafﬁc towards a sensorial experience machine. Driving through the city will put our senses and sensibilities into the foreground and allow us to interact with the urban context in completely new ways.
And there is always the option of a collapse of all systems that might come as a surprise, keep us going, force us to improvise, invent and move ahead. If at that point cities have proved once more to be ﬂexible, adjustable, able to transform and survive, then we will live under a protecting ozone layer again, happily ever after.
J. MAYER H.