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Driving Change

5 transportation tech trends to watch

Cities that predict potholes, robo-taxis in Vegas, shared micro-mobility options and an EV charging buildout? What we heard backstage at VERGE 18.

Last month we held our annual VERGE conference in Oakland, California, and heard from inspiring policy-makers, entrepreneurs, city leaders and sustainability executives on our main stage. But we also invited some of these leaders backstage into our GreenBiz Studio for deeper and more intimate interviews on what the future will look like and how technology will make companies and cities operate more sustainably. 

While we chatted with a range of thought-leaders, these are my five favorite interviews with executives looking at transportation and mobility. These interviews provide a compelling glimpse at a transportation future that's electric, autonomous, connected and shared. They also give valuable insights into early lessons learned for how to deploy transportation technology.

Predictive potholes for connected cities

Kansas City's chief innovation officer, Bob Bennett, describes how the city developed a system to be able to predict when road potholes will occur and when to fix them. The system runs off of wireless infrastructure and analytics that Kansas City deployed two years ago. The city also just started operating 25 7-foot-tall iPhones around the city that act as a way to engage with citizens and promote things such as getting out to vote. 

Ride hailing will usher in autonomous vehicles

Uber and Lyft are already changing how we move, but many think that ride hailing and autonomous vehicles will go hand-in-hand. Lyft's Jody Kelman, who heads up the company's autonomous platform, talks about Lyft's lessons learned launching autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas. That's right: if you're in Las Vegas today, you can hail a Lyft and it just might be a self-driving car (with a safety driver).

Transportation's shifting 'techtonic' plates

Mobility entrepreneur Robin Chase, who pioneered several sharing services, says we're in a once-in-a-lifetime moment when transportation is being utterly disrupted by autonomous vehicles, sharing, connectivity and EVs. When those plates cool, we need to make sure we're moving toward more sustainable, liveable cities. 

The future of electric charging 

Black & Veatch is a century-old company that is the engineering workhorse behind many new electric and power infrastructure projects. In particular, the company has worked closely with Tesla and Electrify America on building out EV charging stations across hundreds of sites. B&V's Paul Stith gives his insights into what tomorrow's EV charging network will look like.

How big auto can make cities smarter

The Smart Cities chief of General Motors's Maven division, Alex Keros, has a pretty cool job. He's focused on collaborating with partners, like cities and startups, around how GM can bring electric, shared vehicles to residents as a way to gain transportation access and provide economic growth. He describes his work as being "a translator" for many stakeholders. "GM can't solve for cities by itself," he says.

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