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Most people dread their daily commute to work. In particular, it sucks to be squished into a moving chamber like sardines while waiting to reach your destination. What if there was a better way to get around the city?

A Box on Wheels

Tommaso Gecchelin, founder of Next, plans to change the commuting space with modular transportation. The concept involves a self-driving pod that can connect and detach itself automatically with other pods in transit. Like a never-ending relay race, the system relies on the links to move passengers around, foregoing the need for stations and stops. The modules are electric too, which means that charging docks will follow the cars around. This would let each one power up efficiently on the road, where the routes are in operation 24/7 without any breaks. The system makes use of every cutting-edge technology available today. Payments are facilitated wirelessly using a smartphone and all updates about the ride are pushed out individually through real-time notifications.

Gecchelin wants to get the whole system going by 2020. That might seem like a stretch, but the man is already in talks with several transportation institutions for funding and support. At the rate road infrastructure is developing, Gecchelin may need to talk to a magician to turn his ideas into reality. This is because the pods are extremely autonomous. Regular roads simply can’t provide that level of coordination, yet. “What we think of as a level four autonomous car, one that drives itself even if you’re sleeping in the back, that is a possible technology but it’s not one that’s without error,” said Costa Samaras, a Carnegie Mellon engineering professor and co-author of Autonomous Vehicle Technology: A Guide for Policymakers.

On-demand Services

If the transportation concept does catch on, you could soon be lounging and having your coffee inside a pod on your way to your destination. Companies like Starbucks or Taco Bell may deploy their own modular station that goes around connecting to other compartments as they service commuters. It’s like a food truck service, but the truck goes to you instead. An alert on your app will let you know that the food train is on the way, and a few taps will set your order in motion before the booth latches on for dear life like a leech. “On Next, this system will be more than useful, since you want to completely forget you are on the road, and think you are on your living room sofa,” highlighted Gecchelin.


Outside of food and beverage, the new method could be useful for deliveries. For such operations, a person would be out doing rounds around the city, while modular pods continuously feed new packages to the pod. The delivery personnel would never have to go to the warehouse to reload the truck. He or she wouldn’t even have to step out of the chamber to pee. In Gecchelin’s vision of the future, bathrooms are summoned instantly like food trucks, providing passengers and workers relief on the go. Suddenly the prospect of commuting doesn’t seem so hellish at all.

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