Persuasive Electric Vehicle, 2014 MIT Media Lab, City Science Group (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) Photo: Scott Rudd Associates

Technology – What if deployed drones could tame medical emergencies, self-driving vehicles could eradicate traffic jam and a super-fast commute could connect cities hundreds km away? With 2019 about to kick in, is time to buckle our belts: the future is now. The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York presents the exhibition The Road Ahead: Reimagining Mobility showcasing the status of the art of innovation on the matter.

How do we want our urban future to look like? “THE ROAD AHEAD points to several possible futures for our cities and asks audiences to consider how design will improve and expand options for urban transport,” explains Cooper Hewitt’s Director Caroline Baumann.

Canguro Mobility Robot. Folding Electric Scooter designed by Shunji Yamanaka. Manufactured by fuRo - Photo: Scott Rudd Associates.
Canguro Mobility Robot. Folding Electric Scooter designed by Shunji Yamanaka. Manufactured by fuRo – Photo: Scott Rudd Associates.

Visitors are welcomed by the Sounds of the Future City, an immersive sound experience created by Arup speculating on how cities might sound in the future as new technologies arrive in the public space.

  • The Road Ahead: Reimagining Mobility is on display until March 31, 2019, at The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum – 2 E 91St street, New York NY 10128.

We selected 10 innovative and visionary technologies ready to hit the road in the upcoming future. From smart scooters to green parking planning and persuasive electric vehicles. Check them out!

The Road Ahead @ Cooper Hewitt - Photo by Scott Rudd Associates
The Road Ahead @ Cooper Hewitt – Photo by Scott Rudd Associates.

The Hyperloop

© Hyperloop Technologies, Inc
© Hyperloop Technologies, Inc.

Imagine traveling non stop at airline speeds from cities hundreds km away like Dubai and Abu Dhabi in just 12 minutes. Hyperloop One is an ultra-fast, on-demand, affordable, fully electric mass transportation system. Passenger capsules are transported at 1.100 km/h for over 120 km through a low pressure tube, elevated over the land. The sci-fi project is already in construction and will connect also New York and Washington DC. Recently Foster+Partners has released a video showing its vision for a hyper loop cargo network as well. [Watch video]


Levitating bubble-shaped vehicles

The Float Concept Vehicle; designed by Yuchen Cai, University of the Arts London for Renault Car of the Future Contest (France); Courtesy of Renault.
The Float Concept Vehicle; designed by Yuchen Cai, University of the Arts London for Renault Car of the Future Contest (France); Courtesy of Renault.

Central Saint Martin’s student Yuchen Cai won Renault’s Car of the Future Contest which invited designers to envision future mobility solutions. The students have been asked to “consider ways in which cars may be used and shared in the future, when owning a car outright may become less prevalent.” The Float Concept Vehicle is modular bubble-shaped pod. [Watch the video]


Smart scooters

Photo by CanguRo - Courtesy of Chiba Institute of Technology -fuRo.
Photo by CanguRo – Courtesy of Chiba Institute of Technology -fuRo.

On show cutting edge vehicles on their way to hit the road such as CanguRo, an intelligent robot that is transformable and ridable. The Transformers-like bot assists and follows you as a pet. As you ask for a trip it automatically turns itself into a smart vehicle relying to AI technology. [Watch the video]

Moveo Foldable Electric Scooter designed by Peter Uveges and manufactured by Moveo - Ph. Courtesy of Moveo.
Moveo Foldable Electric Scooter designed by Peter Uveges and manufactured by Moveo – Ph. Courtesy of Moveo.

Moveo is a lightweight foldable electric scooter. Made from a carbon fiber composite structure, its body allows range maximization, and gives easy handling of the vehicle at standstill as well. [Watch video]


Skype-based delivery service

Starship Autonomous Delivery Robot; Starship Technologies (San Francisco, CA) - Photo by Starship Technologies.
Starship Autonomous Delivery Robot – Photo by Starship Technologies.

Additional works on view include Starship, a network self-driving delivery robot developed by the team who founded Skype. “We believe our robots will revolutionise neighbourhood deliveries, offering people convenient new services that improve everyday life,” say Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis. Established in 2014, Starship Technologies today already operates in several cities with multiple partners.


Emergency supply by drones

Zipline Autonomous Drone Delivery System - Courtesy of Zipline.
Zipline Autonomous Drone Delivery System – Courtesy of Zipline.

On show also the Zipline the world’s only delivery self-driving drone system which aims to save lives at national scale to send urgent medicines, such as blood and vaccines, to those in need. Already operative in Rwanda, Zipline provides sanitary delivery in areas difficult to reach be car. [Watch video]


Garbage trucks harnessing bigdata

In Cambridge, MA, researchers at the MIT Senseable City Lab teamed up with Cisco to turn garbage trucks and taxis into sensing platforms by installing environmental sensors collecting over data as they move around the city. “Compared with traditional fixed sensors, the City Scanner project radically reduces sensor and deployment costs, providing data about many urban areas and allowing on-demand configurations based on citizen input,” explains Carlo Ratti. 


MIT Persuasive Electric Vehicle 

The Road Ahead @ Cooper Hewitt. Persuasive Electric Vehicle, 2014 MIT Media Lab, City Science Group (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) - Photo: Scott Rudd Associates.
MIT Media Lab’s Persuasive Electric Vehicle at The Road Ahead – Photo: Scott Rudd Associates.

MIT Media Lab created a Persuasive Electric Vehicle that glows when it registers a human face. The three-wheels bike-like unit self-drives to the destination it has been called via an app, from there you can ride it to where you need to go. “PEV persuade you to adopt a more sustainable mod to and to ge physical exercise,” says Kent Larson, director of City Science research group at MIT.


Optimizing parking spaces through sharing economy

FXCollaborative's Public Square @ The Road Ahead - Photo: Scott Rudd Associates
FXCollaborative’s Public Square @ The Road Ahead – Photo: Scott Rudd Associates.

FXCollaborative‘s Public Square model for greener, more walkable and lively public space provides a model for New York City, and cities everywhere, with a way to “rethink their streets and reclaim that parking space for a greener, more walkable, bike-friendly, and lively public realm”. [Watch video]


Self driving cars helping disable people

Waymo - Steve Mahan, courtesy of Waymo.
Waymo – Steve Mahan, courtesy of Waymo.

 Waymo’s sensing technology for autonomous vehicles to navigate roads safely in order to “make it safe and easy for everyone to get around – without the need for anyone in the driver’s seat”. Local Motors’ Accessible Olli presents an autonomous shuttle accessible to people with physical and cognitive disabilities.

The Road Ahead @ Cooper Hewitt. Autonomous Drone Delivery System, WorkHorse (Loveland, Ohio, USA) - Photo: Scott Rudd Associates
The Road Ahead @ Cooper Hewitt. Autonomous Drone Delivery System, WorkHorse (Loveland, Ohio, USA) – Photo: Scott Rudd Associates.
  • Looking back… What is “the Future”? A final section of The Road Ahead looks back on past visions of mobility as well showcasing  historic examples from Cooper Hewitt’s collection and the Smithsonian Design Library. Here, a 1955 concept-car drawing from the office of General Motors and a 1939 booklet documenting the Futurama exhibit and ride at the New York World’s Fair are on display.