Seven trends to shape the fu­ture. (They all af­fect you.)

TH­ESE TWO WORDS HAVE SPARKED HIS­TORY’ S MOST SIG­NIF­I­CANT IN­NO­VA­TIONS. BUT WHAT’S THE NEXT BIG THING? HERE ARE SEVEN SIM­PLE IDEAS THAT COULD SHAPE THE FU­TURE - FOR BET­TER OR FOR WORSE.

GQ (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

NO ONE OWNED A CAR?

Most peo­ple drive a car to work ev­ery day. And in Aus­tralia, around 90 per cent of those work trips are done alone. That’s some­thing David Rohrsheim, the gen­eral man­ager of Uber Aus­tralia and New Zealand, wants to change. “Syd­ney and Mel­bourne have mil­lions of cars,” he says, “but if you’re at the lights and you look out the win­dow, you’re prob­a­bly go­ing to see a lot of empty seats on your left and right-hand side. We have to find a smarter way.” If the trend con­tin­ues, more cars with fewer peo­ple in them means more con­ges­tion and a greater need for park­ing – both at home and at work. “Syd­ney might have 10 or 20 per cent of its space set aside for park­ing,” he says. “But what if we got that space back? What you could do with it?

prime real es­tate and it’s a re­ally tan­ta­lis­ing op­por­tu­nity.” It’s some­thing ar­chi­tec­ture firm Woods Bagot has al­ready an­tic­i­pated. Its re­cent plans for a Perth apart­ment com­plex have a car-free fu­ture in mind. The first few lev­els of tra­di­tional de­vel­op­ments are usu­ally set aside for park­ing – which means low ceil­ings – though the Perth build­ing has in­creased th­ese ceil­ing heights, to al­low the floors to be re­pur­posed in the fu­ture. The same is hap­pen­ing at other de­vel­op­ments around the world, in­clud­ing plans for a res­i­den­tial com­plex in down­town LA. Like an in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple, Rohrsheim be­lieves the fu­ture is in shared, eco-friendly, au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles that op­er­ate on de­mand. They could be housed out­side of city cen­tres, free­ing up the in­ner city for ad­di­tional green space or cheaper hous­ing. Street­side park­ing could also be con­verted into other uses, such as bike lanes. Rohrsheim is con­fi­dent the next 10 years will see a mix of au­ton­o­mous and tra­di­tional ve­hi­cles on the roads. “Con­ges­tion is the first thing you’ll no­tice – the com­mute won’t be so painful,” he says of the ben­e­fits. “And as far as safety goes, in an au­ton­o­mous world, we’re op­ti­mistic that th­ese com­put­ers will not get drowsy, will not get drunk, and that will con­trib­ute to much bet­ter out­comes on the road.” Car own­er­ship is also ex­pen­sive – the Aus­tralian Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion cal­cu­lates the yearly cost at $20,000 – ac­count­ing for in­surance, tolls and run­ning costs. Then there’s the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, with cars re­spon­si­ble for 16 per cent of global Co2e­mis­sions. Uber sees it­self not as an al­ter­na­tive to pub­lic trans­port, but as a com­ple­ment to it. You might catch a train to your lo­cal sta­tion, then or­der a ride for the 10 min­utes to your door. If Uber has its way, search­ing for park­ing at a lo­cal train sta­tion will be a thing of the past. In the US, New Jersey avoided build­ing ad­di­tional park­ing at the city’s main tran­sit sta­tion, in­stead of­fer­ing sub­sidised Uber rides for the fi­nal leg of com­muters’ jour­neys. In Florida, the gov­ern­ment turned down a pro­posal to de­velop a new bus shut­tle ser­vice, in favour of re­duced Uber fares for lo­cals, to and from train sta­tions. The de­ci­sion cut costs from $1.5m a year, to less than a third of that. Dur­ing the re­cent Christ­mas sea­son, Canberra struck a deal to give night-bus rid­ers a $10 Uber dis­count to cover the fi­nal leg of a trip home. A fu­ture of en­ergy ef­fi­cient, shared rides will re­shape cities. Still, Rohrsheim ad­mits there will still be a place for petrol heads who en­joy the thrill of driv­ing. “Peo­ple still have horses,” he points out. “We just don’t use them to get around.”

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