Recap of 2012 Meeting of the Minds Conference

The following is reprinted with permission from and was written by Research Affiliate Stephen Raney.

The original can be found at:


I really enjoy Meeting of the Minds’ unique combination of technology and regional planning. Two of the mobility conference sessions covered the “Urban Mobility Revolution” and carsharing (ZipCar, City CarShare, and peer-to-peer Buzzcar).

While the future is anyone’s guess, below are seven standout future mobility items, with a bias towards self-driving and youtubility.

1. GM’s EN-V: small self-driving, self-parking future car

The video (above) features high-speed autonomous crossings through congested, stoplight-free intersections. Automated parking fits more vehicles into less space (see video above).

At a 2012 Commonwealth Club talk, GM’s CEO Dan Akerson expressed some sympathy for raising the gas tax. A substantial tax increase, though unlikely, will increase demand for mobility services.

2. Toyota’s 2050 vision

Toyota’s futures video envisions a car-restricted, pedestrian-centered city with a hierarchy of green vehicle types.

3. Avego smartphone instant ridesharing

Avego is rolling out 2012 pilots in Santa Barbara and the north part of the Bay Area. Their introductory video shows the driver/rider matchmaking process, pickup logistics, and cloud payment.

4. Urban mobility new ventures and venture capital investments

Bill Ford Junior’s venture firm, Fontinalis, has bet on four different smart parking startups (ParkMe, Parkmobile, QuickPay, and Streetline), as well as Wheelz peer-to-peer carsharing. Mercedes Benz created their own Car2Go carshare system. Google Ventures and GM Ventures invested in Relay Rides peer-to-peer carsharing that now features OnStar integration. Honda is now supplying EVs to the Zipcar fleet.

5. Personal/Group Rapid Transit (GRT)

PRT: elevated, electric, self-driving “last mile” circulator transit with many four-person vehicles for airports, office parks, and universities. GRT deploys larger vehicles.

Ultra’s London Heathrow Airport system operates at ~99.7% reliability. Overview video:

Vectus has the strongest parent company (Posco) and their Suncheon system is under construction:

First-to-market 2getthere’s Masdar system also operates at ~99.7% reliability. 2getthere also has a GRT system in operation at Rivium GRT. This next video provides the yet-to-be-fully-realized Masdar ecocity. This video shows renderings of Ultra vehicles, rather than the installed 2getthere design:

6. Comprehensive new mobility

UM SMART’s Susan Zielinski’s favorite comprehensive mobility video is available at It depicts a seamless mobility service where many tools are packaged together: carsharing, car rental, bike sharing, smartphone transit route planning, real-time location tracking, smart parking, guaranteed ride home, transit fare payment, context-aware web content, etc.

7. Google self-driving cars

In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed California Senate Bill SB1298 at Google Headquarters. The bill “creates a legal framework and operational safety standards for the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles on state roads and highways.” Signing video: