New autonomous pods move in swarms to improve public transportation

The Next Transportation pod system is scalable to help ease commuting problems in cities of all sizes.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Next Transportation launched autonomous pod vehicles that connect and disconnect, reorganizing passengers based on their destination during the trip.
  • The scalable pods could potentially provide an option for commuters in cities, easing congestion and providing safe transport.

The newest form of autonomous, electric transportation may come in the shape of modular and scalable pods.

Next Transportation, which launched at the World Government Summit in Dubai Sunday, uses swarming pods that connect and disconnect while transporting passengers, organizing riders based on upcoming stops. The technology could be useful in cities with heavy commuter populations, as well as smart cities.

Each pod holds 10 people total, six seated and four standing, the company said in their launch video. When connected, the pods' interior spaces are combined like on a bus. Since the pods connect and disconnect while moving, passengers are reassigned from pod to pod based on their end destination, the company said.

SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of autonomous vehicles (Tech Pro Research)

The pods become a bus when demand calls for it, but can also work as a single pod—basically a car. The adjustable nature of the pods may help get people closer to their exact destination as opposed to a train or bus station that often lets them off a few blocks away.

While being transported, passengers will be able to move between the pods. Refreshments and Wi-Fi will be available, according to an explainer video from the Dubai Media Office. With Wi-Fi available, business professionals commuting to and from work may be able to get more work done while arriving closer to their destination than in other forms of transportation.

Dubai will test the pods, according to a tweet from the Dubai Media Office, but did not give a timeframe for the tests.

Self-driving cars could pay a key role in the creation and development of smart city technologies, which two-thirds of US cities are investing in. For example, autonomous transportation could allow people to live hours from cities and easily commute without needing to drive. It could optimize ride-sharing services like Uber, and could expedite shipping.

An increase in autonomous vehicles could cause a drop in car crashes and related fatalities. Department of Transportation researchers say up to 94% of fatalities could be prevented by switching to self-driving vehicles.

For more information about the future of connected vehicles, check out TechRepublic and ZDNet's special feature Tech and the Future of Transportation.

Also see

Image: Next Future Transportation

About Olivia Krauth

Olivia Krauth is an Education Reporter at Insider Louisville.

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