I once heard a radio programme in which Daniel Roche, a wonderful historian of the 18th century (in the same league as Robert Darnton), described the industrial ecosystem at the time of hippomobility. Horses provided power. They ate grain. They shat. This manure was collected on a daily basis and distributed to the outlying farms, which used it to grow grain to feed the horses.
This hippomobility was displaced by automobility and a very complicated and global industrial ecosystem. And this, according to more and more pundits and experts is going to be dislocated by autonomous (but still auto) mobility. Well, maybe the the prefix should be « motorised » rather than « auto ». The old form of auto-mobility (one driver+one car able to go more or less anywhere, anyway, anytime) is being made to look more and more like some kind of an ersatz, Ginger Ale type thing. For, « lo and behold », the real autonomous auto-mobility is about to hit us.
At ESIEE Paris, students have been mapping the controversies around this trend for a while. A few MoTIS teams have done great work in the past few years. Given how fast things are going there may be little controversy left.
This ongoing Singaporean experiment is a nice example.
But when it does happen (‘cos it will) it won’t be as radical an industrial ecosystem transformation as the « hippo » to « auto » was. There will be no circularity. Just a new bunch of (still) global players replacing the old bunch.
More Ginger Ale anyone?