When we think about public transport in the future, perhaps intrigued by decades of possibilities in books and films, we generally imagine flying shuttles darting from one part of a city to another. We may well have to wait a little longer for something like that, but one person who is definitely shaping the future of transport with his mind is Tommaso Gecchelin, founder of Next Future Transportation.
Gecchelin, a young man with a Venetian accent, reddish hair and a physics degree was working at a job in Silicon Valley when a few years ago he developed his visionary project. The totally electric cabins are a little longer than a Smart car, similar to bus carriages and self-driving. Inside, there are seats and places for you to stand, but also, when needed, bar corners, toilets and tables. However, if you think of it as a deluxe compact bus, you’re way off: Next Future Transportation vehicles are totally smart and interconnected. When you’re walking around anywhere in a city, with the dedicated app, you can call for a vehicle, which will come to you and take you where you want to go. Sure, there isn’t a cabin for each person, but people share the same space depending on whether they have requested a common destination.
And what if you need a certain number of spaces or a bar in the corner? No problem! The cabins can be joined together in motion. And all without the help of human personnel. Everything is automated.
To carry out this kind of project, we needed skills in robotics, advanced computing and optics. It was only possible by creating a team. In our case, the whole team was from Padua
It was quite an achievement. “To carry out this kind of project”, explained Gecchelin, “we needed skills in robotics, advanced computing and optics. It was only possible by creating a team. In our case, the whole team was from Padua”.
From Veneto to Silicon Valley, and then through to the Emirates. Yes, because even when Next Future Transportation was just a spark of inspiration, there was someone willing to back Gecchelin’s idea. In 2016, Tommaso presented 1:10 scale prototypes of his invention to the Dubai Future Accelerator, in front of public and private investors. Bingo! The idea was immediately popular and within a year, Gecchelin and his time brought the first functioning, urban transport vehicles to Dubai.
When will we see it in Europe? Maybe in 10 years or so, according to Gecchelin. They will need investors, partnerships and infrastructures able to accommodate Next. Nothing is impossible however, especially since ‘impossible’, in Tommaso’s experience, simply does not apply. And so, as he writes on his website, Next may one day be used instead of private vehicles, or by companies to carry out their business on the go, or even instead of camper vans – with lots of bed space – for adventurers on their travels, and finally, of course, for public transport. But a lot more practical than what goes around our cities at the moment: “Think about a 12 metre-long bus. Sure, when it’s rush hour, it’s useful, but at 11 in the evening, a two metre-long module is more than enough”. And so we’ll clutter the streets less, save money and the earth will benefit too.