Recent research is producing cool advancements in how we drive. Here are four ways technology could help make your commute greener and more convenient.
More than 15 million Canadians commute to the office each day, and many of us spend nearly an hour on the road just heading to and from work. Though more and more Canadians are travelling in eco-friendly ways, like using public transit, those who take a bus, subway or commuter train are likely spending nearly twice as long commuting as those who drive. Luckily, research is helping to create innovative technologies that could help save time and reduce traffic-induced carbon emissions. Here are some cool new developments that could help you get to work in a more convenient and environmentally friendly way.
Getting to work on foot or on bike has long been heralded as the healthiest way to commute, but what if your destination is too far or you can't stand to arrive at the office drenched in sweat? An e-bike might be just what you're looking for. Pedal as much as you can, then let the battery power take over the rest of the work. New e-bikes, like the still-in-development Mode:Flex designed by Ford, are extra convenient because they can fold up to be stowed at your office or in the back of your vehicle. Ford has designed their bikes to be able to charge right in the back of your car, so you could drive partway to work, then park and bring out the bike when you reach a less driver-friendly area. A special spot for your smartphone centred between the handlebars and a connected app help you navigate, and anticipate changes in weather or traffic problems ahead. You can also track all those great health benefits you're getting as you ride.
You may have already begun telecommuting without knowing it. This growing trend refers to working outside of a regular office while staying connected to your coworkers with the help of the Internet. It basically saves you from commuting at all. Depending on the type of work you do, email alone might help you to stay connected, but online tools are advancing, allowing you to take on much more ambitious projects with your colleagues without actually being in the room with them. Skype and Google Hangouts let you to communicate via video, while Google Docs offers a way for several people to access and edit documents remotely. And a program called Prezi helps you make a presentation online and collaborate with others in the planning stages. While telecommuting is mostly happening on a small scale right now (think work-from-home days when your child is sick), the fast-growing technology means it has the potential to change the way some employees work every day of the week.
With the rise of companies like Uber and Airbnb, we're seeing a growth in the sharing economy. We've seen bike-sharing programs, such as Bixi, pop up and the next step could be sharing cars. In fact, Ford began a pilot Peer-2-Peer Car Sharing program in June 2015 in six U.S. cities and in London, England. Those who have financed a vehicle can help offset some of the costs by putting their cars up for rent on a web-based app, allowing other car-less drivers in their communities to use them, for a fee, when they don't have a need for them. Since most vehicles are parked more than they are in use, this system would allow drivers to get more value out of one car. Many people are looking to supplement their incomes, and this type of program would allow drivers to make back some of the huge costs they pay for cars and insurance, while also reducing the number of vehicles needed in their communities.
Driving software and apps
How would you like to have an in-car driving coach to help improve your fuel efficiency? Or a smart watch that tells you where to power up? Both of these things are now possible. In fact, a SmartGauge with EcoGuide already exists in the Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi Hybrid. The system tracks the energy efficiency of your driving in real time and offers coaching on how to balance the brakes and the gas pedal to get the most out of your fuel tank. You're rewarded with green leaves on your dashboard screen as your driving improves, so a quick glance at the screen is all you need to check how you're doing. Meanwhile, the MyFord Mobile app (which is currently available on your phone but still in development for your smart watch) lets you get the most out of your electric or hybrid vehicle by telling you your charge level, where to find the closest charging station and how much carbon dioxide you're emitting. You can also find out where you parked and lock or unlock your doors remotely.