Emerging Technologies

Technology has shaped our lives in ways we could never have anticipated, allowing us to be more connected and productive, and bringing with it the potential to change the way we travel. San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan will explore technology trends that have the potential to get more out of our existing infrastructure, improve safety, and provide more mobility choices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

  • Shared Mobility: Technology has made it possible to access shared cars, shared bikes and scooters, and shared  rides on demand through a mobile application. Share mobility services are providing communities with more travel choices, and their popularity is beginning to challenge long-held beliefs about the need to own a vehicle for personal mobility. Public transit, the original shared mobility service, also is benefiting from the technological revolution through improved operations, fare collection, scheduling, and routing of transit service. 
  • Electrification: Rapid expansion of electric vehicles (EVs) could go a long way to reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality. Major auto manufacturers released their first EV models in 2010, and over 70 models are planned by automakers for model year 2020. One challenge for EVs though is the lack of public charging infrastructure and the total range the vehicle can travel between recharging stops. However, battery and charging technology is improving and in the future inductive or wireless charging technology could be embedded in roads charging EVs while they drive.
  • Connectivity: Smart cars and infrastructure are connected to the internet allowing them to communicate with each other and other connected devices. Connectivity offers a whole host of benefits including improved safety for all modes, smoother traffic flow, and more reliable public transit. Connectivity also has allowed for more people to work from home instead of traveling to work. Regular telework, among the non-self-employed population, has frown by 140% since 2005.
  • Automation: Automated vehicles (AVs) can operated without a human driver. The potential benefits of AVs are numerous. More than 90 percent of vehicle accidents are caused by human error, so AVs could eliminate most vehicle accidents. AVs also could increase mobility for populations that can't drive like the elderly and disabled. 

In April 2021, the Emerging Technologies White Paper was updated to reflect research and these transportation-related trends. The objective of this white paper is to present technological and societal trends that have the potential to radically change how the region’s transportation system is used in the future, and to outline potential policy considerations that will enable the region to harness the benefits and reduce the negative aspects of these trends. The white paper will help inform the transportation network development process.