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Emerging Modes of Personal Transportation

This meeting will take place in the San Francisco China Basin…Registrants will be provided the address several days before the event.

Energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are projected to increase over 100% by 2050,substantially contributing to accelerating climate change. The clean energy economy requires a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and the transportation sector accounts for about 28% of the total, compared to electricity (about 33%), and buildings [40%], according to the EPA. There are a variety of emerging personal transportation technologies which can, to varying degrees, substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) relative to traditional internal combustion engines.

There are to be, certainly, varying degrees of success for these various emerging personal transportation technologies. For many, Ethanol proved to be too problematic, but later generation biofuels (e.g. Cellulosic; Algae) hold theoretical promise. Another technology with a rocky road is the Hydrogen-powered vehicle, but it still might overcome the obstacles. A $2.3 billion initiative announced by President Bush in 2003 heralded hydrogen as a future competitive fuel source for automobiles. While this initiative has stalled, it may just resuscitate within a decade, as Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda, Renault-Nissan, and Daimler are developing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming increasingly cost-competitive, and as the public EV charging infrastructure is deployed, an increasingly attractive option. Yet achieving critical mass in the EV industry is far from certain. Recently, Advanced (“Clean”) Diesel automobiles are being developed which could achieve fuel efficiencies competitive with EVs.

The “Sharing Economy” vision includes another emerging mode, albeit often utilizing existing transportation technology: ride sharing. Ride sharing has great potential, and several companies are driving the demand, seeking to overcome various sociological, political, legal, and regulatory challenges.

PAMD (Portable Assisted Mobility Devices) are becoming increasingly common and practical, as they are often small enough to be carried in personal vehicles, and public trains and buses, then deployed for the “last mile” of the trip.

Finally, Autonomous vehicles, such as Google’s, are becoming legalized in many states (including California), but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has already established safety guidelines and cautions that driverless cars remain in pure testing mode currently.

We’ll have a panel of experts review and critique these prominent emerging modes of personal transportation. Some of the questions which they’ll address include:
What are the prospects for widespread commercial availability of the leading emergent transportation technologies in the next several years? In 10 years?
What are the primary obstacles to their commercial success?
Regarding EVs, which currently are more widespread than the other emerging transportation modes identified above, what can be done to enhance both private and public charging infrastructure options?
What other newly emerging personal transportation modes expected in the coming years have substantial promise?
What is driving the evolution of new means of personal transportation? Is this coming from below [the public], or from above [the OEM’s]? This will impact the pressure on legislators to make accommodations to laws and how people accept proposed modes of transportation.


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