2024: The future of transportation is here

Colombian taxi driver Humberto Meza charges his new electric taxi at a gas station in Medellin, Colombia, on September 19, 2019 in this file photo. Photo: AFP

Colombian taxi driver Humberto Meza charges his new electric taxi at a gas station in Medellin, Colombia, on September 19, 2019 in this file photo. Photo: AFP

Published Dec 12, 2023


Once in a while, technology makes a significant change that impacts every part of society. In 2024, we are about to witness such an impact in how people move from point A to B. After speaking with one of the executives at Uber I can confidently say that 2024 will mark the beginning of major transport innovations.

Before naysayers can jump up and down to point out that there’s a power crisis, energy issues will not stop transport innovations. Based on what I’ve gathered from people working at the cutting edge of transport and tech, here’s how I think the future will unfold.

Uber will slowly introduce electric vehicles in their fleet of cars that are moving human beings and goods. This is starting to take shape in other parts of the world. The move towards electric vehicles is just a start towards automation of moving machines.

Elon Musk, who is at the forefront of transforming transportation, would like to see a future where we will have robotaxis that will move people without the need for a human driver.

In my discussion with Tony West, Uber’s senior vice president, he also confirmed that in future, Uber will use autonomous vehicles.Of course, depending on where you are in the world this future may be a bit far or closer.

The reality, however, is that at some point there will be a lesser need to own cars. This does not mean that developing nations will be folding hands and watching the transport advancements taking shape. In South Africa, we are likely to see electric taxis moving masses as from 2024.

I have it on good authority from some of the leading transport innovation thinkers that we will start to see new types of taxi ranks. They will become the main charging points for e-taxis of the future. It is my belief that more innovations will emerge out of this exercise.

My understanding is that what’s coming in the transport sector will not just be about how our machines are powered. The vehicle will become a platform upon which other technologies will be built.

To understand this you have to pay attention to the latest product from Tesla, the Cybertruck. Musk has shown us that the shape of cars can change, their cover can become a protection for passengers, and inside passengers can be entertained by games. Beneath its angular exterior lies a technological marvel that challenges the conventions of traditional vehicles.

Its steering wheel is an unconventional rounded yoke, a departure from the traditional steering wheel. Behind this bold design choice lies Tesla's implementation of a steer-by-wire system.

This cutting-edge technology enhances the truck's manoeuvrability, addressing concerns raised with other Tesla cars. This is just another step towards driverless vehicles. Steer-by-wire is also a requirement to achieve full autonomous driving.

When we see Uber adopting electric vehicles and local taxis becoming electric vehicles we must know that transportation is changing. The changes will positively impact the price.

My hope is that such changes will lead to more affordable rides for people. If that becomes a reality, the vision of more people sharing cars and owning less of them is likely. This understanding should inspire regulators to start preparing for such a future and not be surprised the way they were when Uber changed transportation.

We are witnessing some challenges where e-bikes are becoming a headache for municipalities. In 2024, you will also see more cities adopting e-bikes as a form of transportation. Already e-commerce platforms are using them for deliveries.

Wesley Diphoko is the Editor-In-Chief of FastCompany (SA) magazine