In my thinking, heavily informed by Carlota Perez’s work on the topic, technological developments follow two distinct phases: first comes the inputs innovation, where the industry figures out how to implement new technology to make their processes and products more efficient, followed by outputs innovation, where innovation becomes messier, as you try to build on top of new technology. I’ve written about that before.
With the development of cars running apace as it is – there’s almost weekly announcements around autonomy and electrification – it seems like the right time to look at what outputs innovation might look like for the future of mobility. Ben Evans provides a good starting place looking at potential second order effects across the economy and human behaviours that might fall into place once the roll-out of electric and autonomous vehicles is underway in earnest.
Over at the City Observatory, there’s an alternative view on the limiting factors and potential problems that might come with widespread roll-out. Urban geometries are limited after all, and infrastructure has built-in inertia that makes it slow to react to technology changes.
That policy has a role to play in shaping the future of infrastructure should be self-evident. So it’s not surprising that the players are jockeying into position in shaping how policy might look like. Take for instance Uber, that floated (and indicated general support for) congestion charges applied to road use. Crucially though, that idea seems to be predicated on tax authorities getting records of vehicle miles travelled.