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February 28, 2014
More and more, technology determines how we move. Whether we're behind the wheel of a car, perched on a bicycle seat, or hoofing it on foot, technology often makes the difference between a satisfying or infuriating trip. Techie tools and philosophical shifts, from in-car touch screens to vehicles with minds of their own, are elevating mobility to surprising heights. In the automotive sector, hybrid technology is evolving by leaps and bounds. As automotive editor and writer Paul Meyers said in our panel on the Future of Mobility during Modernism Week in Palm Springs, "Every manufacturer has a version of a hybrid, and full electric [cars] are making strides. People are working out the kinks." According to Anders Tylman-Mikiewicz of Volvo's Monitoring and Concept Center, hybrid plans were in place as early as 1992, but "the technology was not really there to create the product for the consumer." We look forward to seeing how this might translate to every other sector of mobility in the future.

Autonomous cars are being tested around the world, but Volvo has an even grander plan, once its technology has been fully developed over the next few years: “Drive Me—Self-driving cars for sustainable mobility,” will gather 100 driverless cars for a 30-mile drive around Gothenburg in 2017.

Image courtesy of the Telegraph

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Of course, with technological exploration comes risk; at least, perhaps, when volatile chemicals are involved. A recent segment of DnA: Design and Architecture on the Los Angeles radio station KCRW hosted by Frances Anderton delved into autonomous cars and the hypothetical Hyperloop train, two high-tech mobility ventures that challenge our safety comfort zone.

Image courtesy wired.com 

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Dwell Media recently joined Swedish luxury automobile manufacturer Volvo for Modernism Week in Palm Springs. Among the fantastic reveals? Designer Alvin Huang’s Pure Tension Pavilion, a rapidly deployable and portable solar charging station created to power up Volvo’s V60 Plug-in Hybrid, the world’s first Diesel Plug-in Hybrid. The free-standing tensioned membrane structure, made from Fabric Images fabric architecture, is the result of a Volvo contest. It fits in the trunk and shades the car while it charges.

Of the technological shifts that have propelled our means of mobility, Huang said, "When the car first came about, we used to call it the horseless carriage; we don't really think about the fact that there used to be a horse. So right now, we're calling it a hybrid car, and I don't really know what it's going to be later, but I have a feeling it may not be a car."

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It was only a matter of time before the tech sector responded to all of the transit options available with mobile apps. But now, drivers can access apps from behind the wheel with in-car touch screens that mimic smartphones. The Car Connectivity Consortium's MirrorLink program, for example, displays apps that let drivers share location, parking and traffic hazard information.

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Autonomous vehicle technology extends beyond cars, however. In the serene Danish countryside, 15 miles northwest of bustling Copenhagen, autonomous robots transported pallets of veneer down the aisles of Fritz Hansen’s 161,000-square-foot chair factory back in 2009.  

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Retro-inspired bicycles may be of-the-moment, but the latest technologically sophisticated bikes are just as eye-catching. From data-driven power meters that measure a cyclist's output to ultra-light bikes weighing less than 1,000 grams to aerodynamic models with linear-pull style cantilever brakes, riding a bike has never been quite so techie.Photo by Peter Belanger. 

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Car accidents and fatalities resulting from human error have led some to conclude that humans are simply unfit for driving. At Dwell on Design in 2009, Mike Simonian and Maaike Evers of San Francisco experimental industrial design studio mike and maaike posed the idea that, eventually, we could be downloading different drivers to keep us safer.  

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4 driverless car volvo 2014

Autonomous cars are being tested around the world, but Volvo has an even grander plan, once its technology has been fully developed over the next few years: “Drive Me—Self-driving cars for sustainable mobility,” will gather 100 driverless cars for a 30-mile drive around Gothenburg in 2017.

Image courtesy of the Telegraph

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