The ‘Mobile Revolution’ is therefore leading to a system of different mobility devices that combine efficiency with an individualized urban lifestyle.
StuUnder the slogan “Future needs Utopia” experts from Daimler discuss at the Future Talk in Berlin visionary ideas with external specialists from different fields. Among them are Philipp Hübl, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Stuttgart, Tobias Wallisser, Professor of Architecture and Innovative Construction and Spatial Concepts at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart and co-founder of the Laboratory of Visionary Architecture and Martina Mara from the Ars Electronica Futurelab in Linz, Austria.
Professor Dr. Herbert Kohler, Vice President Group Research and Sustainability and Chief Environmental Officer at Daimler AG points out: “As part of our culture of innovation, we want to provide an impetus for visionary thinking. Future Talk offers us the opportunity – outside our own four walls – to enter into a dialog with avant-garde thinkers and discuss our ideas. We are convinced that innovations are only effective if they follow a clear vision for the future. Therefore, it is important to comprehend social trends and developments at an early stage and sift out the relevant aspects for an automobile manufacturer. This includes topics such as the changing user behavior of the customers as well as new opportunities and challenges due to increasing connectivity of the vehicle. That is the only way to develop successful product and business ideas and design them appropriately.”
It’s time for a new Utopia
There is no future without a past: Alexander Mankowsky, Futurologist at Society and Technology Research Group at Daimler AG and Professor Philipp Hübl open the Future Talk in Berlin by presenting influential utopian ideas from the past and discuss the necessity of future visions for societal evolution.
“We sense some kind of discomfort in society about the current lack of clear direction,” says Alexander Mankowsky. “It is time now for new utopias – in fact desirable ones. We are always trying to bring together the ideas of our creative thinkers and the expectations of society. Of course, mobility is our core competency. Besides, authenticity is always vital – you cannot have meaningful technical visions without social and cultural environments in which they can be realized.”
Philipp Hübl continues: “Political and social utopias in the past failed largely because they went against human nature – whereas the technical visions usually came true. Anyone who wants to predict how people will live in the technological society of the future must understand what defines the very nature of a human being, independent of random or enforced circumstances or trends.”
The science of future research looks for the constant in an ever changing world. But especially the social and societal aspects represent a challenge, because they are the most complex due to the endless parameters, so Hübl. There is the desire for authenticity, genuineness and uniqueness as well as the search for the idyllic environment with plants, food, water and light as a ‘perfect world’ and retreat. At the same time mobility applies today as a metaphor for life, for experience, travel and independence. In the end, Hübl proposes the question if we could endure several visions simultaneously, or maybe we actually do not want to choose one.
From the visions of the past to the mobility of the future: Holger Hutzenlaub, Head of Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Germany and smart Design, presents the results of a Daimler future workshop. The pictorial worlds developed at the workshop show possible scenarios for future mobility and ways of making cars even more useful. The four scenarios, Giving Back to the City, Double Purpose, Mobile Revolution andCarchitecture, look at different strategies for shaping the world of tomorrow.
Giving Back to the City: follows a philanthropic approach
The idea of ‘Giving Back to the City’ came about because of the way people perceive cars which are often seen as the ‘bad guys’ – for example when it comes to parking. Thus, the task was: how can we create a more positive perception of cars? What additional functions must cars have in order to offer people benefits above and beyond transportation? There is no doubt that cars are becoming more and more intelligent – they are fitted with a vast amount of sensory systems and technology. ‘Giving Back to the City’ is a philanthropic approach that aims to use these technologies to create benefits for the wider community.
Cars increasingly become data hubs that assimilate and process large amounts of data from the surrounding area, as well as contributing information themselves. They are developing into robots with their own intelligence and the capacity to act. A parked vehicle, for example, could signal to children that a road is safe to cross or, if they are lost, even point them in the right direction. When crossing a traffic lane, a car could send signals to the traffic infrastructure allowing other vehicles to slow down. ‘Virtual crosswalk’ could make it possible to safely cross a road at any point.
The modern ‘living in transit’ requires more flexible shopping opportunities. Large screens on the sides of cars could display products that a passer-by could order, as if in a virtual shopping zone. At the same time, these screens could serve as advertising pillars, providing information on the current location or saying something about the vehicle’s owner. Access to the digital world and unlimited communication would be possible without a smart phone 24 hours a day no matter where you were.
Martina Mara also sees cars in the future as autonomous self-directed, social agents – with many senses for what happens in their environment. The ‘MoveBot’ performs more and more as an intelligent information robot that is active on its own in the city of the future. Beyond that the autonomous, social car of the future could be connected with other service robots in our everyday life. One opportunity regarding Martina Mara would be a complete merger: according to current requirements the robot could clean the transparent smart-material-facades or serve as transportation.
“The gap between man and machine is getting smaller and smaller and robotic systems react more and more as social partners. Living together with an autonomous machine could make life of following generations much easier,” says Martina Mara and adds: “Such a vision of the future could also evoke uncertainty, perhaps even eeriness. To accept autonomous technologies as friendly species, we should have our needs for control and personal freedom in mind when it comes to their design.”
In a human-robot co-existence from a socio-psychological point of view there is certainly to consider the aspect of losing control; something that we human beings usually do not like that much. Will we get along with intelligent, autonomous robotic vehicles moving back and forth and around us? Can we trust them? Do they know more than we do? An autonomous system that decides for itself, its next steps which we as humans cannot predict, could also spread fear. Advices of the spectrum of possibilities and information on the proposed decisions of the ‘MoveBot’ could reduce or even avoid uncertainties.
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