Technology Day 2004 - "Shifting Gears”
GARVIN: They assured me we're not going to give you a lavalier. The mics will be on. This is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and this is how we start the day. It's my pleasure as the executive vice president of the Alumni Association to welcome all of you this morning to Tech Day 2004. The committee and staff working on the program have put together another stunning day of academic interest with time for Q&A, discussion with the presenters. And we're very excited about the program.
We are living on the edge a little bit this morning. We're scheduled at 11:45 to have our alumnus traveling the furthest for his reunion to join us from the International Space Station. And we hope that all will go well with NASA and in addition to talking about the automobile this morning to get a little report from space. There has been a change in the afternoon programming. There will be a wonderful opportunity for I think more discussion. We tend to pack these programs so tightly with speakers that sometimes speaker cancellations are a blessing.
This afternoon, we will have Norman Augustine, Dean Cayman, and Ernest Moniz, and have time to really talk about some important issues with them. I wanted to recognize all of the good friends here and the people I hope will soon be good friends for your continued support of MIT. And I wanted to especially pay tribute to one special guest.
It was noted at commencement yesterday that it was the first time in 44 years that Paul Gray was not on the commencement stage. Paul has been on that stage as a faculty member, chancellor, president, chairman, and now again as a faculty member for the last 44 years. But yesterday he was instead marching with his 50th reunion class as the class president. And I think for that remarkable achievement, we owe Paul and Priscilla a round of applause.
Paul and I were discussing this yesterday. I believe that must be a record, although he thinks that perhaps President Killian spent as many years on the stage. But I suspect Paul will surpass that in the future. It's my pleasure to introduce our morning moderator. The day will be split into two sessions, this morning moderated by President Vest, in the afternoon by our distinguished guest, Norman Augustine.
Chuck needs no introduction to this crowd. He is MITs 15th president. And conveniently for our topic today and our guest speaker, he chaired the President's Advisory Committee on the redesign of the space station in 1993 and '94. So he knows far more about this than the rest of us. And we're delighted to have this opportunity to feature that today. Chuck needs no introduction, but he deserves our biggest applause for his bold and disciplined leadership of MIT for the past 14 years. Without further ado, President Vest.
VEST: Thank you, Beth, and good morning everyone. Over the last few years you've heard a great deal about so-called disruptive technologies, phrase coined by Clay Christensen up at the Harvard Business School. Disruptive technologies are those innovations that have the potential to truly change the way we live, to transform the economy, and in the end to reshape our world.
Today's technology day program is designed to discuss what certainly has to be the greatest disruptive technology of all time, namely the automobile. Over the course of the last 100 years or so, the automobile has spawned entirely new industries, remade cities, and spurred the growth of suburbs and exurbs and come to play an increasingly important part in our daily lives.
Now I'm going to be honest with you at this point in my speech, there's a little sentence in brackets that says tell some anecdotes about your personal experiences with cars. But I figure that if I got started on our families '36 Ford, my '49 Chevy or my '49 Plymouth, my '54 Volkswagen, or even my 1985 Dodge Aries station wagon with a stick shift, we'd be here all day. So let's hear from some people that really know about this industry.
For most of this period, the United States has been thought of as a car culture. But since World War II, the private automobile has actually been transforming Europe as well. It has played an enormous role in the development of contemporary Japan and South Korea, and is now beginning to make its mark in China and other rapidly emerging economies.
There is no doubt that the automobile has been and remains a powerful symbol of personal freedom, an important engine for both economic opportunity and for leisure. But there is at the same time no doubt that it has troubling consequences as well in consumption of energy and the production of environmental pollutants and in land use and community planning. In other words, the automobile is a powerful technology that in fact is still developing and that has profound economic, but also social and policy impact as well.
If that doesn't sound like the kind of a subject that MIT ought to be concerned about, I don't know what is. In fact these are exactly the kinds of issues and problems that MIT as you know seeks to tackle, places where the world needs our expertise and our vision. So it is not surprising that we have been involved for many decades with questions raised by the automobile.
As far back as 1929, a generous gift from Alfred P. Sloan Jr. provided for the establishment of the Sloan Automotive Laboratory, which remains an international center of research in automotive and engine technologies. During the 1980s and '90s the automobile was at the center of MITs groundbreaking studies of industrial productivity and competitiveness that began to develop during Paul Gray's presidency, at a time in which as you know the manufacturing sector of our economy was deeply threatened, and today work on issues related to the automobile continues across the Institute as we develop both new automotive technologies and a new understanding of the car social and environmental impact.
The impact of this work is leveraged through a collaboration with many stakeholders from industry, from government, and from non-governmental organizations, NGOs. This morning we will hear about central challenges and opportunities before us today about the automobiles economic impact, its fundamental technologies, its impact on the developing world, and its role in individual lives. This afternoon's session will look to the future, encouraging us to think about resources, the relationship of the car to urban life, and the possibility of alternatives.
This morning our first speaker is going to be professor Dan Roos. Dan is the Associate Dean for engineering systems in the School of Engineering and the co-director of our engineering systems division. A member of the MIT class of 1961, he holds the Japan steel industry professorship of engineering. Dan is going to talk to us about the automotive sector, future challenges and opportunities. But I can't help insert Dan at this point a little anecdote that says something about the quality of your work and the work of MIT in general.
Rather early in my presidency, not too long after Dan's remarkable book, The Machine That Changed the World, about productivity and lean manufacturing in the automobile industry came out, I had a trip to Germany on behalf of MIT and had an appointment to spend an hour with the then chairman of the then company Daimler-Benz. And I had been warned up one side and down the other that everybody at Daimler-Benz recognized their company and its miserable productivity and quality ratings in the anonymous companies in Dan's book. Watch out, they said. This is a big, powerful European chairman. He's going to beat you up.
So I walked in with great fear and trepidation, said hello and so forth, sat down, and he looked over at me and he said, that book that you guys wrote at MIT, it's going to have more positive impact on this company than anything that's ever happened. And that's exactly what we want to have happen here. And I think indeed Dan's work had impact not only there, but around the world.
Following Dan we'll hear from another extraordinary MIT colleague who absolutely anybody who knows anything about engines and combustion and automotive technology knows and looks to as one of the great gurus, our colleague Professor John Heywood. John currently is the Sun Jae professor of mechanical engineering and the director of the Sloan Automotive Laboratory that I mentioned a moment ago. John will discuss future automotive technology and fuels, the options and their impact.
Following the talks, the remarks by Dan and John, the three of us will then go to the other side of the stage and we will open up for about 15 minutes of question and answer with you before the mid-morning break. Dan.
CREW: They're asking if you'd please take your name tag off when you speak.
ROOS: It's a pleasure and privilege to be here today. I'm here wearing two hats, a speaker in this technology day, and as was mentioned earlier I am also here as an alumni of MIT and a member of the class of 1961. So I thought it might be interesting to take a look at what a car looked like in 1961. The 1961 Chrysler Imperial getting about 8 miles per gallon with tail fins. Like I could have put a Cadillac in which had about three times as tall tail fins.
Now, bear in mind that it wasn't until 1965 that Ralph Nader wrote Unsafe at Any Speed. There was no Environmental Protection Agency. As a matter of fact, there was no Department of Transportation. Japanese cars were not being sold in the United States at that point in time. So things have really changed in a very, very significant way.
Chuck very eloquently mentioned why the automobile is so important to us, from a societal point of view in terms of its economic impact. From a personal point of view it provides us with mobility to get to work, to shop, entertainment, and from a societal point of view as well.
So when we think of the automobile we have to think of it in an overall context of an automotive system. There's the infrastructure upon which the vehicle is going to operate, which is being subjected to increased congestion. There's the urban environment and the impact of both the vehicles and the infrastructure on that environment. There are concerns about sustainability, the impact on our environment, particularly with regard to urban air pollution and global warming; and other societal concerns, fuel efficiency, energy conservation, automotive safety, the disposal and recycling of vehicles, and some new concerns, issues like road rage. And more recently for those of you who have been following all of the debate and concern about obesity, joining the fast food chains as one of the primary villains is the automobile, with the implication being and probably correct implementation because people are driving so much they're walking less.
So this is a technology that has had, as Chuck said, a really significant impact on all of us. And also as Chuck indicated the growth and use of automobiles is increasing all over the world. This is not a US phenomena. We have become a dependent society on the automobile. Public transportation is an important, but unfortunately it plays a minor role in terms of the amount of passenger travel that it carries. And that role is decreasing, and it's decreasing even in the major, large, high density cities of the world, the cities that were really developed around public transportation.
The public has expressed their desire for the comfort, convenience of automobile travel. They like a more low density lifestyle. And so we really have become an auto dependent society. There's no alternative to the automobile.
Today I'd like to begin looking at what's happening in the auto industry and then look at the future in terms of what auto production may look like, where the future markets will be, some of the challenges that we have with respect to highway congestion automobiles and the urban environment, and finally a few comments about the implications for MIT.
Automobile manufacturing in the US has changed drastically. In the 1980s all Japanese cars sold in the United States were manufactured in Japan. Today, the big three, Chrysler, GM, and Ford, the American producers, are closing manufacturing plants at the same time the Japanese companies are opening up manufacturing facilities in the United States, largely as a result of globalization. And it's not just manufacturing facilities. It's research and development. It's design centers so that these already in design centers are designing vehicles for American tastes that are going to then be manufactured at American plants.
50,000 Americans are employed now in Japanese manufacturing plants in the US, producing over two million cars a year. The implication of this is that we really have two auto industries in this country. We have the big three, which is Detroit based and unionized, and then we have the so-called transplants, the foreign plants. And these are not just Japanese. Mercedes, BMW, also are manufacturing cars here. They're not Detroit based. They tend to be primarily in the south. They're all non-union in spite of the efforts of the United Auto Workers to unionize them.
As the big three plants have closed. We have this very unfortunate imbalance of more retirees than active workers. 370,000 retirees and only 290,000 active workers in the big three. The implications of that are severe in terms of legacy costs for health care and pension. It costs the big three about $1,360 a car versus about $80 to $107 a car for Toyota and Honda.
Furthermore, union contracts specify that if workers are laid off, they still get paid. This has led General Motors to continue auto production at a constant level during the recession. The result of that has been an oversupply of cars. The only way to get rid of those cars is to offer these incredible rebates, which you're seeing, $5,000 or more per car, 0% financing. And the other manufacturers have had to respond to compete. This has had a major impact on profitability.
General Motors does not make money selling cars in the United States. General Motors makes money in auto financing and home mortgages, ditech.com, and in selling cars in the Asia-Pacific market. We've seen an unfortunate gradual decline in the market share of the big three. In 1978 they had 84% of the market here in the US. Today, in 2003 61%. The May figures just came out a few days ago and the market share is now below 60%.
In addition to this, there's increased competition from Korea. Hyundai for many years who has had a reputation for very, very poor quality, and now it's rated extremely high from a quality point of view. And Hyundai is the fastest growing car company in the United States.
In addition, US consumers have a much greater choice of the cars to buy. Between 1974 and 2004 there has been a doubling of the different types of models available to US consumers. So we have Volkswagen, the so-called people's car company manufacturing inexpensive cars that now this year for the first time is selling the Phaeton in the US. Prices start at $65,000 and go to $125,000.
If you think that is a lot of money to pay for a car, think again. Daimler, which produces Mercedes, has come out with the Maybach. $350,000 to buy a Maybach. At the same time that Daimler is moving upscale, they are also moving downscale. So next year you will be able to buy the smart vehicle which is currently in Europe. This is a mini car. BMW will be introducing the BMW 1 series.
There are new market segments. Toyota, for example, is offering a hybrid gasoline electric car as is Honda. This is the Prius. It's now second generation. Toyota has found that their market share among youth was dropping, so they've come out with a new product line. Interesting looking vehicle. This is the Skia.
So what's happening is the number of market segments is increasing. Each manufacturer feels the need to cover every market segment. So there's great duplication. They're all chasing market share and there's only so much market share. They're moving upscale. They're moving downscale. You combine this with General Motors overproduction of cars with the new competition from Korea, and there is a huge, a significant worldwide problem of overcapacity. This is a troubled industry and it shows in profitability.
Periodically each one of these companies has been in pretty dire financial straits. You might have seen about two weeks ago that Mitsubishi just got bailed out by one of the Japanese banks. Volkswagen, Fiat, had major problems right now. The only car company, which is in really good financial shape, is Toyota. The market capitalization of Toyota is greater than the combined market capitalization of GM, Ford, and Daimler Chrysler, to give you some idea.
But let's talk about the future and what auto production would look like. And let's start with the car buying process. This is an ad from the Boston Globe that I cut out about a week ago for one of Boston's major car dealers Herb Chambers. And Herb Chambers advertises over 1,000 new vehicles in stock. Think for a moment of the carrying cost of 1,000 vehicles in stock. The land that those 1,000 vehicles sit on. Let's assume that a vehicle goes for $20,000. Not unreasonable assumption. $20 million of inventory is sitting on that dealers lot.
Herb Chambers made estimates, or one might say guesstimates, of what cars people would like, but he doesn't always guess right. So here we are about to see the 2005 cars arrive and we still have brand new 2003 cars left over. So if any of you are interested, Herb is having a blowout sale--
--to get rid of his 2003s. This excess inventory is symptomatic of major inefficiencies in the car production process. Manufacturing takes only 1.5 days of what is a 40 day process. From the time a dealer places an order with the factory to when that vehicle is delivered takes 40 days. It is essentially an industry push system, where on a quarterly basis each manufacturer determines how many cars of each model is going to be produced. Sometimes they're right. Sometimes they're wrong. Sometimes there are too many. Sometimes there aren't enough.
Instead the industry needs to move to a customer whole operation and a bill to order system. Now, bill to order of course was pioneered by Dell computer and the automobile is much more complicated product than a desktop computer. But nevertheless, Chuck mentioned before the machine that changed the world, which was done by the International Motor Vehicle Program. That program continues here at MIT, and the researchers on that program have estimated and in fact designed a system where it will take five days from the time that a customer orders a car at a dealership to when it's delivered, eliminating the need for not only all this inventory, but numerous inefficiencies in the supply chain.
And it's ironic, but just this week the book Second Century, which is a follow on book to Machine That Changed the World was published by MIT Press. And so some of you may be interested in more details. You should read that book.
Let's talk about automotive markets. The US is basically a replacement market, and Western Europe is very minor growth. The major growth is in the developing countries of the world. The motorization of the third world with a particular focus on China. China has 1.3 billion people, and it's largely an untapped auto market. There are 18.6 vehicles per 1,000 people. You can compare that with 300 to 700 vehicles per 1,000 in the Western world.
There's been explosive auto market growth. 3.25 million vehicles built in 2002. That's a 56% increase. 4.4 million vehicles in 2003. That's a 37% increase. There is improved quality of the cars that are being produced. GM Shanghai reports about 23 bad parts per million delivered compared with 3,000 bad parts per million five years ago. The energy and environmental impacts are severe and several of our speakers today will address those issues.
What is unrecognized, what is really a tragedy, the traffic fatality rate in China-- last year with 24 million cars there were 104 deaths. Now, this largely inexperienced motorists and the large number of bicyclists. And you compare that with Japan, which has three times the number of cars, and the fatalities were 7,000. Even in the US with all the cars that we have, the auto fatality rate is about 45,000, but less than half of what it is in China.
I have grave concern about the auto industry being overly dependent on China. There are of course great economic uncertainties. If China has a hard economic landing, it will have a hugely severe impact on this industry. It's obviously going to affect lots of industries, but this industry in particular.
I was sitting in the front with Norm Augustine and Norm just got back from Saigon and he was saying, boy, you won't believe the traffic there. And you go to Bangkok, as these developing countries are motorizing, there is this huge, huge congestion. And, of course, the congestion is developing as well here in the developed world. It's a very major problem.
What I'd like to do is describe a few very interesting approaches that some cities are using to try and minimize the congestion and how some of those approaches might suggest what the highway system of the future is going to look like. In 1975, Singapore introduced the first congestion pricing system in the world. The idea was if a person wanted to travel into central Singapore certain hours of the day, they had to pay a fee.
Three years ago this system was automated and an electronic road pricing system was put in place. You can see here in the vehicle there's an in vehicle unit where the driver uses a smart car to register to go into the city. There's several checkpoints where the vehicles are checked to make sure that they have registered.
There are two objectives of this system. The first objective is to encourage people who previously drove to switch to mass transit. And it's been very successful. The second objective is to smooth the flow of traffic throughout the day so that the charge varies by each half hour of the day. If Singapore sees that there's a period of the day when very few people use the system, they're going to put a low charge on, and they'll put a high charge on at times when lots of people use it causing people to adjust.
The same sort of principles of yield management in the airline industry and what electric utilities do to smooth the utilization of the resource. Now, this was done in 1975. Since then no other city has implemented congestion pricing because the politicians were afraid. They said, my goodness gracious. What is going to be the backlash from citizens if they're charged to drive into the city?
That is until this past year when Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, introduced a congestion pricing system in London. It's within this area. Covers about a million people. For those of you not familiar with London, this would correspond roughly to the area in Manhattan from about 59th Street to the tip of Manhattan, the financial district, the east side and the west side. Travelers need to pay five pounds a day-- that's $8. --and they can register by phone or internet or have a ticket bought at a number of shops.
This is not an automated system. There are about 300 surveillance cameras around this area to check licenses and make sure that the drivers are registered. It's been a tremendous success. Everybody was skeptical. It would never work.
Here's some of the data. Traffic delays inside the zone are down 30%. Traffic entering the zone is down 18%; 55% of those people have switched to public transport; 20% have switched to another mode, primarily taxi; and 25% who previously traveled through the zone but had no interest in anything in the zone-- it was simply the shortest route. --now travel around the zone. There's been no adverse traffic impacts outside the zone. There has been a decline in retail sales, but it's unclear whether that's due to congestion charging or whether it's due to the recession, which has affected all retail business in the UK.
Let's now look at another interesting approach with pricing. I think many of you are familiar with the concept of high occupancy vehicle lanes for car pools, van pools, and buses. And this is characteristic of many of those lanes. There's a lot of excess capacity in those lanes. So the idea is to create from those lanes high occupancy toll lanes. So in addition to the multi passenger vehicles traveling free, single occupant drivers will be allowed to travel congestion free in that lane if they pay a fee.
Variable pricing is used to make sure that the lane stays congestion free. So if we start to see it build up with too many cars, the price goes up. The price changes every six minutes. So you know you're going to get a congested free ride.
There are three positive impacts here. First of all, those people willing to pay will get a congestion free ride. And at first they called these Lexus lanes, the idea they're for the very rich. But it's very interesting. They've done surveys and all income groups are using them, and they're not using them on a daily basis. They're using them when they really need to get some place quickly.
So those people travel congested free. You're taking them off the regular highway routes and a lot of money is coming in which can be used to improve the transportation system. There have been successful implementations in California and in Washington DC of these hot lanes. So successful that Maryland and Virginia are now suggesting hot networks be constructed. And what this suggests is that we will be moving to a two tier or dual network of highways offering different levels of service. You will have the existing congested highway system where you travel for free, or if you're willing to pay a fee you can travel on the congested free HOT networks.
Now, both the road pricing system in Singapore and the HOT lanes use electronic toll collection so that a person doesn't have to throw money in every day. They're billed on a monthly basis. This is one application of an Intelligent Transportation System that links together the driver, the vehicle, and the roadway. And this has profound potential impact.
There are other examples. Many of you are familiar with OnStar by GM. We have navigation systems, driver information systems, to tell the driver how to go from point to point and in an emergency to get service to the driver. But the most promising potential is the ability to better manage the entire transportation system, to be able to optimize traffic signals, to control ramp access, to spot accidents when they occur that block lanes and remove those vehicles, to show boards where you can say which parking lot still have space available for drivers, for people waiting at bus stops to say when the next bus is going to arrive. So what we are creating is an information infrastructure to manage and control the physical infrastructure.
The highway system of the 21st century will be built around these concepts of pricing and the use of information and control technology and ITS. We'll have congestion pricing to control congestion primarily in the downtown areas and other congested highways. We will have variable pricing on HOT lanes to offer congestion free travel for a fee. And this will all be under Intelligent Transportation Systems to manage and control the network. So what we will see is a dynamic responsive transportation system that is adaptable to changing traffic conditions and provides choice to the driver as to what they want to do.
Now, there was limited time and I was going to go into another innovation. I'm going to mention it briefly. I'm going to mention it briefly because it was started by MIT graduates. And this is the concept of car sharing. And this is intended for people who live in the metropolitan area to have only occasional use for a car and they don't really want to buy a car because of the difficulty of parking and the cost of maintaining that car.
Zipcar started four years ago. It has 1,600 members and there are 145 cars strategically parked around Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. In fact, there's a Zipcar in the Kresge parking lot right here. 12% of the members who've joined Zipcar have sold the car upon joining. 25% to 35% have avoided purchasing a car. So 80% of the Zipcar subscribers don't own a car. 95% of them don't use a car to get to work when it's most difficult to use a car.
The estimate is that each Zipcar is replaced seven to 10 cars, and that Zipcar has taken 15 cars off the street. You know how severe the parking situation is in Boston. Taking 1,500 cars off the street is non-trivial. So here's an example of how you're trying to provide choice to urban residents and how you're trying to make the automobile more harmonious with the urban environment.
I've talked about the automotive system as a very complicated system. I'd like to spend just a moment in concluding talking about the implications of this for MIT. It's a large scale system which is characteristic of lots of other large scale systems that we find in the world today, which are increasingly dependent on technology, energy systems, communication systems, the internet. They're large scale networks and they are expanding in size and scope and complexity.
We need engineers who understand technology to design those systems. But those engineers need to know more than just the technology. They have to understand organizational issues. They have to understand issues of the context, the impact, the social, political, institutional factors. So what we need really is a different new type of engineer that works with the traditional engineering scientists, the technical specialists, an engineer who has a broad understanding of how to design large scale complex systems.
And as usual MIT is in the forefront. Five years ago MIT established the Engineering Systems Division in the School of Engineering. But although it's in the School of Engineering, it is a cross cutting unit which has faculty coming not only from the engineering departments, but from the Sloan School and the humanities departments as well.
The faculty and ESD has part of their appointment in ESD and then the other part of their appointment in one of these units. So it's an organization with porous boundaries. It's an interdisciplinary unit focusing on the creation of large scale complex systems. There are two objectives to ESD, broadening engineering education and practice, and developing a new field of study.
In much the way MIT after World War II revolutionized engineering education and practice by introducing the concept of engineering science, so to we believe a similar sort of impact is going to happen with regard to engineering system. Doesn't mean engineering science is less important, but we need both. And MIT is taking the lead role.
So in conclusion, let me just summarize. What I've described is some really fundamental change, some fundamental change with respect to how we might produce cars, fundamental change in where cars are going to be sold, fundamental change in terms of the way our transportation networks are going to operate.
What I haven't talked about is some of the really important harmful side effects of automotive use, in particular the issues of energy utilization and the issues of environmental impact. And I haven't talked about them because of their importance. And because they're so important we're going to have several speakers who focus specifically on those issues to see if we are on the verge of the need for fundamental change. So far the car has been a reasonably adaptable technology that has been able to respond to different regulatory needs in terms of air pollution, global warming, safety, et cetera.
So it's my pleasure at this time to introduce our next speaker, John Heywood who is director of the Center for 21st Century Energy and the director of the Sloan Automotive Laboratory. Let's welcome John Heywood.
HEYWOOD: Let me follow Dan by saying something about options as we look into the future. I'm going to look at the technology that we've got under development that we could put into our vehicles not in a strict engineering sense, but much more in what other possibilities, a robust view of the possibilities and look particularly at the potential impacts that these might have.
Let me make a few observations to set the context, the basic problem is too many of us use too much stuff too often.
And it's really important to remember that there are these three components of the consumption problems that go with our transportation system, and the challenge is that they're all growing, all three of them. There's more of us, we drive more, and we use even more stuff. So it's getting worse and worse and worse. And as we look ahead we've got a series of problems that I'm going to say a bit about. Now, at the same time, we have a very effective transportation system. It's a vital part of our economy. It's a vital part of our culture. It's been there. It's been evolving for decades and decades. So of course it's very effective.
And I drove from my house in Luton to here door to door, eight or nine miles, 15 minutes this morning. That's pretty effective. Now you say, well, it's early Saturday morning, yes. And, of course, the problem with our transportation system is really we'd love to have the same system, but only 2/3 of the number of people using it. But that's not possible.
Now, most of the environmental problems that transportation contributes to they're getting worse, while too we're making progress. But I'll talk a bit about the broader scope in just a minute. It's particularly true that they're getting worse fast and in a very problematic way in the developing world where there's neither the sort of organizational infrastructure nor the economic wealth to deal with these problems effectively. And why this is a problem is that our system is so vast that changing its impacts take a very long time.
Now, what are these impacts? Well, here's a list. The ones I'm going to talk about in more detail are the top two, petroleum consumption and the greenhouse gas emissions, the carbon dioxide that results from that. And that's very appropriate. It's perhaps our biggest short, medium term problem, long-term too, but $2 plus a gallon, gasoline is underlining that for us.
But you run your eye down that list, in the developed world we're making progress on air pollution and it's very high on people's priority list. I think the health impact is clear and that's the reason. We're keeping some things at bay. Noise, safety's improving. At least in the developed world it's going definitely in the other direction in our developing countries.
The one that doesn't get much attention is the steady degradation of our ecosystems that comes from both the road structure, the facilities that relate to transportation, and the vehicle impacts themselves, air pollution, water pollution, et cetera. Interestingly, a National Academy panel that I served on a few years ago looked at all of these and picked out the ones they thought were most important in a longer term sense. And that was number two, climate change, and the last one, biodiversity, as a consequence of ecosystem degradation.
So there are lots of problems and they result from this. Too many of us, too much stuff, too often. Now, I'm going to focus on the top two and here at MIT I've been involved with colleagues in a number of studies in our lab for energy and the environment, which is the unit where much of the sustainability issues, energy and environmental issues, are being worked on by multidisciplinary groups. And I put the names up here for a special reason.
We've had some extraordinarily talented graduate students work with us in these problems. Very able and very idealistic young men. If you find Felix AuYeung's name is in the top there, he arrived on my doorstep and I took him on for the project, and he proved an inspiration. He kept us older types young, and we taught him how to do a robust engineering. It was a very good combination. And then he went off to try and save China, which he found discouraging, but he's still just as idealistic as ever.
Now, let me comment a bit on the technologies, enough to give you some sense of what our options are. Mainstream technologies, gasoline engines, transmissions, vehicle components, they get better all the time. Some studies we've done show that typically engines get better about 1% a year. By not much you say, but over 25 years that's a lot of improvement. The only trouble is what we've done the last 20 years is we've traded increased efficiency in all of our vehicles. We've moved up in size and weight and we've demanded higher performance. So we've eaten up all those gains in efficiency.
There are lots of options. Some details. Some bigger changes that are being developed. Some are coming into production. A lot of promise. We can make our technologies better, but there's a cost. It costs a bit more and the demand for fuel economy is low.
Dan mentioned hybrids. I'm sure you've read about hybrids, this combination of an internal combustion engine with a battery and electric motor. Sometimes you use both. Sometimes one. Sometimes the other. They look very promising in terms of a fuel economy's perspective. Toyota's doing very well marketing its Prius. Honda's following.
Interest in hybrids is rapidly rising. They really look like a robust technical solution, but they cost a couple of thousand dollars more and we've still even at $2. Got cheap gasoline. Diesels are going like gangbusters in Europe. In many countries 50% of the new car sales have half diesel. Half of them are diesels. Half of them are gasoline engines. One reason is it's driven by differential taxes. All fuels are expensive, but diesel's less expensive.
The problem in the US is a business case. Can you make a business case when we don't know if these diesels will meet the very strict emission standards that California and the rest of the nation have coming up in a few years? We don't know whether diesels will make it big. We don't know whether hybrids will make it big. But they're good opportunities.
On the more radical end, of course, there's hydrogen and the technology that would use hydrogen fuel cells. Growing research activities here at MIT in these areas. I'm involved and many others are. Potential, yes. Maybe this is what we have to do to get the carbon out of our transportation fuels. But as I list here, it ain't going to be cheap and the technology isn't yet that ready.
And let me illustrate that by looking at, well, how do these changes in technology have impact, and then on what time scale might we expect improvements in what I call mainstream technology and some of these really radical new ideas help us solve these problems? And I'm going to show you a graph which we've produced that looks at-- you put these new technologies, you sell these new vehicles, they go into the fleet, they're used by you and me. What's the cumulative impact over time? Now we understand our fleet.
There's something like 130 million, excuse me, vehicles out there in the United States driving around. We add 15 million or so light trucks and cars each year, the fleet's growing. We drive ever more miles, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. All that's well understood and we can describe that.
And here's a graph that I'll spend just a minute on. It looks at the United States billions of liters per year. I have no idea what a billion liters per year is. You probably don't either, but it's an unbelievably large amount of gasoline. And then here we go 1970 at this end of the graph out to 2035. I'm willing to go 30 years into the future. I have trouble going further. And obviously this is history. We are right about 2004 now. You can see things have been growing quite fast.
And the top curve, this dark blue one, is no change. We keep doing what we're doing now. Technology gets better, but we demand bigger, heavier vehicles and better performance. So we use it up. This curve is what we think we might achieve if we start to take doing something seriously, and then if we bring hybrids in so that by 2035 half the new vehicle sales are hybrids, we can turn this curve down.
Now, you're probably looking at that and saying, boy, you're not making much difference. That's the nature of the problem. Cars last on average 15 years. It takes a long time to get new technology, better technology, out there to have a major impact. The bottom curve is if we stop fleet growth and stop driving a little more per car each year. And those are only fractional percentage changes, but they compound over 30 years an extraordinarily powerful way. You know that. When you buy a mortgage you know that modest changes in interest rate are going to have a big impact on your monthly payments.
Now, what this says is with this technology turning this curve around and bringing it down is not going to be easy. And remember that the Kyoto Treaty that we have not in this country signed onto said we've got to get down 5% or 6% below this number. We ain't going to make it. This is our opportunity space. If we do everything we can possibly think of, we get to the bottom curve. But that's a bit too optimistic. Human beings don't like spending extra money to constrain what they do so that we improve the total impact situation.
Now, just a couple of minutes on this. Why does it take so long to have impact? And what I've got here is a table where I've laid out the different stages. I've got an exciting new technology. I want to get it into vehicles and have it have impact. First of all, it's got to be competitive. So it's to develop to the point where it's market competitive. And that's the first stage. And what I've shown here is diesels for the United States with good emission controls, we're about a generation, three years or so, away from having competitive technology. We can do it, but it's too expensive.
Here's an advanced gasoline engine highly turbo charged to follow the diesel path and make the engine significantly more efficient. Again, a generation, roughly three or four years, away from being competitive.
The next stage is, okay, Prius' are out in production, these new hybrids, but by the end of this year there'll be a total of 100 odd thousand out there in use worldwide. That's a small number. There's no impact until we're producing them in the many millions. How long does that take to penetrate across new vehicle production? We've got very little case history to use to work that out. But typically at the best it's going to be 10 years. Our estimate for fuel cells is something like 25 years once fuel cells are competitive.
This is stage two. And the third stage is you got to get a big number out there in use if you're going to impact our energy and greenhouse gas situation. So major fleet penetration. Today cars last about 15 years. So 10 years to get a sizable number out there. Probably much longer if we've got to get the hydrogen out there too. So you add all that up and you take a bit off because they overlap. So 20 years for these relatively mainstream technology evolutions. It's 20 to 30 years. I get told off by two groups on this column on the right. Some people say I'm far too optimistic. Some people say I'm much too pessimistic. So obviously I'm about right.
My final point is if we are going to do something about it, we've got to raise the importance of fuel consumption in the marketplace. And I've had another very talented graduate student working with me an up bend of [INAUDIBLE] under a series of policy measures that reinforce. We've tried to get stricter fuel economy standards through Congress. Doesn't work. We've tried to raise the gasoline tax. Doesn't work. Let's put all these things together so that they add-- there are synergies. --and if we got a diverse set of measures, the political opposition at a minimum gets diffused.
So our strategy is to look at a series of measures. And here's an example. We've completed some studies that look at what the impact of this is likely to be. And as you glance through it, we're going to make the CAFE, Corporate Average Fuel Economy. This is the United States set of regulations that makes the manufacturers meet these average miles per gallon for their vehicles. So we're quite aggressive, but other people in Congress have proposed this in the past few years and the votes are growing.
We can reinforce that with something we call feebates. If you buy a really big heavy vehicle that consumes a lot, you'll pay an extra few thousand dollars as an additional fee, and that will get recycled to those who buy at the other end, a very efficient vehicle. They'll get a rebate. And the way it works out, the rebates are several hundred dollars. The fees could be $1,000 or $2,000.
We bought a system like this already, gas guzzler taxes. They've driven gas guzzlers off the road, and then we couple this with raising gasoline taxes, $0.05 a gallon a year. We don't want to shock the economy too much. We have to do things like this. And then finally we can push the petroleum industry to increasingly bring renewables into the fuel mix that we use.
I was showing this the other day to an industry group, and sometimes I get the reaction, this will never happen in the United States. And an auto engineer from Germany who's involved in the environmental side came up to me afterwards and says we're doing all this already in Germany. So when people tell me this is impossible, I can now say, yeah, well there are many countries in Europe where they're already doing it. So what do we need to do?
My group is taking this public. We are planning to put a workshop on down in Washington for congressional staff aides that explain the realities here and get them to take this problem seriously. But we're trying to find a good slogan that will motivate the broader public. That's you and me. I'm a broader public person as well as an engineer here at MIT.
What motivated me to find a slogan was Maureen Dowd, who writes these caustic columns in the New York Times. She ended one of them about a Texas oilman by saying real men don't conserve. Now, negative slogans aren't a good idea. They've got to be positive. So we're working with Drive Lite. It's got more in it than you might think.
We need more efficient vehicles. I've talked about that. We need lighter and smaller vehicles. We can get used to that and we will when we have to, but it ain't going to be that easy. We could moderate our driving. With cheap gasoline we don't have much incentive. That's why we've got to raise the price of gasoline and that there are things that we don't really want to talk about. If we all drove less aggressively we would use significantly less fuel. And you may well want to add to this list.
So that's your agenda and mine as we go away from this technology day focused on the automobile. But it ain't going to be easy and it's going to take better technology. It's going to take smart regulations that create some synergies so we're willing to share the responsibility of doing something about this problem. And that's the change in attitudes that we've got to find a way to find inside ourselves so that all of this can happen. Thank you.
VEST: Thank you very much John and Dan for those really stimulating discussions. I'm going to be a little brutal. We have 10 minutes for questions because we're going to face a hard stop with connecting later on this morning with the International Space Station. There are two microphones out here. There are also some floating mics. 30 seconds, no more to ask a question. We don't want speeches. First question. That's 15 of the seconds.
AUDIENCE: All right. I'm Sam Losh. I'm from the west and we don't want those small cars. We got big cars. Everybody's got a truck. And we threw out Governor Davis because he wanted to tax our big cars. And I'd grab this little thing and I looked up at these big cars and I think, gee, I better drive more defensively. How big a car can I get to drive defensively enough? What are we going to do politically? We can't do that. We can't get the little cars.
HEYWOOD: Well, I'm going to use the answer I just gave. There are large countries in this world that have dealt with that and they've obviously dealt with it economically in large measure. Some of us have big houses, we pay more taxes on our houses. Some of us have smaller houses, we pay less taxes. We've got a mirror that. We'll get used to it because the thing we will hang onto is amiability.
ROOS: Let me just add two things to that. Remember the '61 car I showed you. We've come a long way from those sorts of cars. So people can change in terms of what their preferences are. At one point in time, we had a regulated auto safety. Now auto safety is something that people want to get. So people's habits can change over time.
AUDIENCE: Professor Gray, my impression is that if hydrogen were free and reasonably priced fuel cell driven cars could be made, there still would be a problem in range because the storage of hydrogen onboard is limited. Is that the case, John?
HEYWOOD: Yes. What I often say about hydrogen-- and I'm working on it so don't think I'm against this as an option. Petroleum based fuels are liquid gold. We have to recognize that. Gaseous fuels and hydrogen is one much less convenient. They've got lots of problems of which Paul just mentioned one. How do you store it? How do you get range? But we may have to transition away from carbon based fuels. And right now hydrogen looks the best of a not very attractive set of alternatives.
VEST: The yellow shirt.
AUDIENCE: I mean, it seems to me that the fuel efficiency and the gas tax are clearly political problems today. But we saw in the '73 under Carter that that could tip very rapidly when people stood online for a few weeks, we got fuel efficiency standards through Congress at that time. So there may be some political tipping point that makes it possible. And my question really is that if we got to that point, it seems to me that your $0.05 a gallon per year is incredibly modest.
In other words, you probably couldn't do that today at all. But when we get to being able to do something, wouldn't it be better to try to do something that matters? I mean, I would argue that half the DOD budget is already subsidizing our gas prices, and that would be $0.50 a liter right there. So the question really is if we got to the point where we could do something with the gas tax, couldn't we do more?
HEYWOOD: Well, I'll willingly raise it to $0.10 a gallon, but I want to moderate the shock as it were here. But let me say one more thing. What concerns me greatly about this is as I showed the lead times for change are very long and we may well be facing on a 10 year or less time scale, what I'll call oil shocks, to our economy and other major economies in the world driven by growth in petroleum demand. We are not ready for that. And we really need to start thinking about getting ready for that because we can't respond in six months and have an impact.
ROOS: I think the important thing is to establish the principle that the gas tax can rise. Once you establish the principle then you have the flexibility over time to increase it from $0.05.
VEST: Next brief question.
AUDIENCE: Kyoto is bunk as another fine product of the Sloan legacy. Dick Lindzen from Earth and Planetary Sciences will tell you if you want to save on greenhouse gases, stop watering your lawn. But my real question is, if we're serious about hydrogen, why haven't we mentioned the word nuclear power anywhere?
HEYWOOD: A question on climate change. If you want to pursue this, something I suggest is that the IPCC, the International Panel on Climate Change, a year or so ago put out a summary report where they took conclusions from all the research work that had been done over the past decade or more, and they put it into a thick report. I have to say that when I read that, I had to admit that there's enough reality there we've got to take this seriously.
So I think we do have to take this seriously. And I mentioned this National Academy Committee study, climate change and ecosystem degradation of biodiversity loss were the two major unsustainables that we thought were there in the really long term that we would have to find ways to deal with.
ROOS: Ernie Moniz is a speaker this afternoon and he did a really pathbreaking study on nuclear with several others here at MIT. So I think he would address that in the afternoon session.
VEST: Absolutely. Yes, sir?
AUDIENCE: I also live out in the West, which is the land of the large vehicle, and I notice in my daily driving that the percentage of single occupancy, Ford Expeditions and Chevy suburbans and those kinds of vehicles, it's phenomenal. It's just an incredible number of them and people claim that they use them for long trips. The reality is they use them to drive to work. And they're all quite expensive vehicles and yet we seem unable to handle a two variable problem, which is that we're trying to help people who are at the lower end of economy meet their transportation needs, and yet people who are at the higher end of the economy are driving $30,000 to $50,000 to $80,000 vehicles, and yet not paying the carrying cost and in environmental terms. How would we address that?
ROOS: Well, we ought to understand that John mentioned before the corporate average fuel economy standards. And that's a two tier system. It made sense when it was set up when these vehicles were being used for off road operation. The CAFE standard for trucks is much less than it is for passenger cars. And so the most important thing to do to change that situation is to revisit the whole issue of CAFE and make sure that vehicles that are really being used for passenger purposes are subject to the same stringent standards that passenger cars are.
HEYWOOD: Can I just add to that? I often ask everybody, including myself, the average price of a new car is $18,000 to $19,000. And I asked my audiences put out your hand if you bought a new car that was below the average cost.
Almost nobody puts up their hand because we talk to high end professionals. That's not the broader public. Let's think about that.
VEST: I saw seven hands.
AUDIENCE: Sometimes the problem is you keep designing a small tank, and the same group of people are-- maybe it's time to call in the evolution biologist because the fact is 98% of the space and the mass of the vehicles are not needed. The other thing is you could have an organelle system in which one part inside travels on the inner city and the rest stays in the parking lot. And there is interchangeability for different situations. A different type of motor or something else could be plugged in. But these are probably a long way down the line.
HEYWOOD: I think yes is the answer to that. The more better ideas, the better.
VEST: We do have some very innovative work going on between folks in the Media Lab, Frank Gehry and other engineers here, thinking a bit about some really radical ideas and transportation. Liz.
AUDIENCE: Well, we are talking about transportation today and the long term. And I think what Dan said at the beginning about the engineering systems, the vision is that we need to link transportation to our living and working infrastructure. And we've designed our communities and our cities around the car, and cities in China are reconfiguring themselves to accommodate the automobile. I think if we're looking 50 years out in the future, besides hydrogen and fuel cells we should look at different ways of designing our urban infrastructure. And it sounds like your program may be a vehicle for doing that. And I was wondering if you would comment on how you fit that, how you connect that through your engineering systems division.
ROOS: Sure. Well in this case, I'm going to think of another technology. And that is what the internet has done in terms of how it's going to change our mobility needs. And bear in mind that there's a real link between mobility and accessibility. And what the internet has allowed us to do is to work at home, to shop at home, to do a lot of services in the past that was going to require trip making. And that's no longer the case.
Now, you might say from that, well gee, there'll be less trips then. That's not the case necessarily. When the telephone was first introduced people said, well, the impact of the telephone is less travel. Just the opposite happened. The telephone opened up new opportunities where people got to know one another and there was more travel.
So I think what is going to happen in terms of our mobility needs is going to change rather dramatically. One thing that we should bear in mind is telecommuting is really increasing. And for the first time many people no longer need to be physically close to their job. And so I mean this starts to get at what you're saying. You start to see people changing their locational decisions and also changing their mobility habits. So we have to think from that point of view. Not just supply, but how demand is going to change as well.
VEST: We're going to take two more questions if they're really brief. Yes, sir?
AUDIENCE: I'm surprised that you haven't said anything to acknowledge the huge costs. And I mean money costs of a transportation system that's almost totally based on cards. We have the paradox here that even in a rich part of the country if you suggest making a public transportation system they say they can't afford it, and yet figures I've seen say that in places that have a complete public transportation system the cost is roughly half as a percent of national income for transportation. Could you comment on that?
ROOS: Yeah. I think you have to be very careful. And I can't do justice to your question in a very brief period of time other than to say that people really misunderstand what the cost of public transportation is. And if one looks at data on a per capita basis, particularly if one is talking about rail rapid transit, it is a highly uneconomical system in terms of building new rail rapid transit systems.
On the other hand, there are some really interesting ideas which started out in South America-- and maybe Ralph Gakenheimer will talk about them. --of using bus platoons to serve almost the same purpose as rail rapid transit does. So let me simply say that I think a lot of the things that the press claims about inequity between auto travel and public transit is just not correct.
VEST: Last question from Jerry.
AUDIENCE: Hi. I drive a battery electric vehicle and although the auto industry seems to have completely written off that approach, it seems to me to have a lot of advantages. The only big disadvantages that I can see being the high cost of batteries are produced in the current volume and the severely limited range. So if we believe that there may be some changes in attitudes about driving, do you think it's possible that that approach may come back for the commuter car market, or does it have fundamental permanent limitations?
HEYWOOD: I'm surprised that the battery industry in a sense doesn't line up more strongly behind what you've suggested. They're not very optimistic about high energy storage battery technology. That's different from the batteries that go into hybrids where you want high power. But this range limitation means, I think, that a battery electric vehicle can't compete with a standard car. Maybe there's a market for different cars, but to date that hasn't developed. So I think as that's an open ended question, but we certainly shouldn't take it off our list of things that we investigate.
VEST: MIT does the impossible, and we are now going to achieve that by actually having a 15 minute break. Please we're going to reconvene at 20 till. We are going to start at 20 till. There is an alternative which is to stand up and stretch in place. But we have 15 minutes. Please thank John and Dan.
VEST: We are about ready to reconvene if everybody could please get to your seats.
VEST: Okay. We are going to get started now folks. Our next speaker will be Ralph Gakenheimer, professor of urban planning here at the Institute. Ralph is going to talk about the role of the automobile in growing the economies of the third world, the developing parts of our world.
He will be followed by the last speaker of the morning, and that will be Joe Coughlin, who is the director of the MIT age lab, something we all have increasing interest in. Joe is going to comment on new automobile technologies for the older driver, which he has termed Driving Miss Daisy Digitally. And again, as I said, after we have heard from Ralph and Joe we will have a few minutes for questions and answers, and then we will hook up with Mike Finke on the International Space Station. So Ralph, please come up.
GAKENHEIMER: Good morning. It's a pleasure to have the opportunity to share some ideas and hopefully propel some debate and discussion for later on. Going to talk about the part of the world, which is most impacted by the motor vehicle, the developing world, and I'm going to talk in particular about India and China. Why India and China? Well, you already know. They amount to 40%, 2/5 of the population of the world and a much, much higher proportion than that of the potential increased motorization and fleet growth in the world.
You may have noticed in recent issues of the London Economist that China last year absorbed fully 40% of the entire world's production of cement and accounted for 90% of the increase of the demand for steel. My colleague Rémy Prud'homme at the University of Paris has concluded that the Chinese are building as many lane kilometers of highway each year as the entire rest of the world is building each year. Shifting gears big time.
And since this is primarily an urban problem in many respects, I'd like to bring your attention to some figures concerning the two economic motors of these countries. Mumbai, former Bombay, and Shanghai. They're cities of about the same size. 17, 18 million as megacities. Their growth rate is about the same rate, although Chinese figures are difficult because they exclude the floating populations. Call it 3% a year, roughly doubling the size of the city every 24 years or so.
Level of modernization is 70 or 80 motor vehicles per 1,000. That compares with 750 to 800 motor vehicles per 1,000 population in the United States. And more than half of those so far is two wheelers because these are countries where it all started with a bicycle, and they tend to ramp up through two wheeled motor vehicles before reaching four wheels.
The rates of increase are staggering. In China, 16% a year on recent average. That means that the fleet is doubling every four and 1/2 years. Imagine motor vehicles doubling every four and 1/2 years. In India only 7% a year, therefore doubling every 10 years. The economies are growing healthily. 6.5 the GNP in India, but in China they've recently moved up from their usual 8% a year of growth in GNP. And note that the population is not rising fast. Up to about 9.5. And some observers say that it may be as high as 13% a year. And, of course, motorization and fleet enlargement is very sensitive to growth in the gross national product.
The purchasing power parity is quite decent for the-- these are city figures now, not national. --is quite decent in both of these cities. The Gini coefficient is a measure of income inequality. The maximum is one, and the higher the figure the more unequal and skewed the income distribution. 0.7 is about as high as it gets in the developing world. So India has a very skewed income distribution, but a substantial high income group who are buying vehicles. China is a much flatter distribution because of the regime, but that's changing extremely rapidly with the liberalization of the economy. And, of course, the greatest change in income is in the upper income part of the income distribution, which, again, indicates the prospect for buying a lot more motor vehicles.
One thing that takes you into a very different culture is to notice the densities of cities which are very important to the transportation problem. 250 to 255 people per hectare in China and India. That's as compared, say with Boston, at around 12 or 13 people per hectare. This is 20 times the density. It's about 100 people per acre. And that's important to the transportation situation.
The mode shares are 65% in Mumbai, which is fairly typical for a developing country. But in Shanghai it's considerably lower largely because of their tradition of state owned enterprises which provide housing close to work and facilitate the use of bicycle and walk trips to a much greater extent. The share of two and four wheel vehicles therefore is substantially less, two wheeled motor vehicles that is to say. And for reasons just explained, the share of bicycle and walk trips are considerably higher in China and has a consequence on this slow transit level. As a matter of fact, now that I think of it, that transit share is about the same as Boston.
The trip rate is modest, but rapidly growing. That is the number of trips per person per day. This is the background of what we're looking at. These cities are decentralizing from these very high densities at an explosive rate. It's partly caused by motorization, growth of the automobile fleet, but it's also caused by other conditions and policies of the government which would be interesting discussion for a longer presentation. The fact is that they are spilling out over the countryside at a very rapid rate.
And on the streets you see, of course, the mix of vehicles that represent the process of transition that's going on in these countries. And in particular in China there's an effort oftentimes to isolate different kinds of vehicles into different lanes so that their different operating characteristics don't collide. But when you're in the street it's a somewhat different deal.
I'm about to tell you how to ride a bicycle in Shanghai when you're making a left turn. This is only for the courageous listener. Bicycles are on the outer lane on both sides and motor vehicles are on the inner lane in the same direction. Two parallel lines each side. So when you reach the corner on your bicycle and want to make a left turn, you insinuate your bike left in front of the phalanx of oncoming motor vehicles so that when the light changes and the cross traffic breaks you can dart across the place diagonally in order to get your left turn lane before these guys get a chance to start, and while your counterparts on the other side are similarly keeping the oncoming traffic there from starting. But of course the motor vehicles eventually barge into this and the result is mayhem. If it was football you could call it broken field running.
And the consequence of this is that all over China municipal governments are actively repressing the use of bicycles. And of course the environmental community is up at arms. How can you possibly suppress the use of a vehicle that's so environmentally friendly, so healthy, so democratic, and so flexible? And indeed it is democratic because at the present time in China nationally there is 1.8 bicycle per family. And the family is small so there's practically a bicycle for every able person. And that's true across all eight octiles of the income distribution. So it's a very widespread.
And how can you suppress a mode like this? Well, the cities are doing it to try to handle situations of this sort and also to turn back the dilution of the market for public transport, which, let's face it, can move people spatially speaking in a more efficient manner. In India we have the same kinds of problems, especially involving the participation of two stroke engines, this three wheeled vehicle, which is very prominent in the traffic. In India it pollutes a lot and makes an enormous amount of noise, and the buses of course still have to access the sides of the street in order to alight and take on passengers.
And the problem of parking is absolutely severe because there isn't enough around. So as here at Konark place in Delhi, there's parked cars everywhere and leaving only a thin line for the progress of cars around this heavily used business center. And the general access to public transit is also extremely difficult, even for those who choose that.
And the whole question of the density of traffic is extremely problematic in all over Asia. In India they're fond of building these flyovers, overpasses, but it's not clear to me or lately even to them how effective that is. And even folks who are seeking charity among the gridlocked vehicles are suffering also from the pollution caused by these two stroke engines, which are really a problem.
So how can we structure this into some sense of a set of challenges for policy and planning in these countries? First is the question of congestion. The first problem indeed is to understand the future of congestion. As you've noticed, these cities are at least as congested as American cities, probably more so, on 1/10 the number of motor vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants.
How can that be possible? Well, the answer, of course, is that there are several technologies transitioning and they're all on the street at once getting in each other's ways. It's difficult to reorganize trip itineraries for people who can't change as fast as the congested conditions, and the problem of overcoming land use patterns which no longer serve the current situation are difficult.
But the point that is important to understand here is that the level of congestion suffered by a city is not so much a function of the number of motor vehicles per 1,000, but rather the speed of change in that figure. It's the first derivative that's the measure of the problem, not the absolute number. And the issue is how much lag, and that's all a very interesting discussion. Many case for the time being, as you see, all over the world trip lengths are very long and difficult problems are taking place.
Dan Roos has given me a great start for suggesting the ways of meeting this challenge. One is the role for car sharing. That was Dan's Zipcar discussion. And in the developing world it may serve a somewhat different purpose of permitting the use of an automobile from time to time when necessary for people who could never own one because they don't have the money.
In the case of new electronics there are just many roles in the rationalization of traffic through driver advisory systems, which will enable people to for example, choose better times of the day to drive, to choose more appropriate destinations, to choose more appropriate routes, to become aware of when and where they can find a parking place and stuff like that.
And finally, the possibilities for limitations of the use of automobiles, other vehicles, in highly congested parts of cities. This is already undertaken in a number of cities. For example, Santiago de Chile, Sao Paulo, Bogotá and Mexico City in Latin America, and others elsewhere for purposes of environmental improvement or improved mobility. And I'm glad that Dan brought up the question of congestion pricing because it looks like something whose time has come.
For example, I'm part of a project sponsored by Mario and Luisa Molina of MIT where I convened a group of transportation officials from all over Latin America in Mexico City recently, and we discussed possibilities that they were very forthcoming about on congestion pricing, which is interesting and surprising because it used to be anathema to even speak of making a charge.
And interestingly, during about an hour they discussed yes, but how are we going to sell it? What are we going to call it? Congestion pricing? Value pricing like in America? Hotlines? Rationing? Externalities control? I know. You got to be an economist to believe in that. Anyway, the whole thing is a matter of how to position it because in the developing world I believe this is probably the only reasonable way to make significant inroads on the problem.
The second problem, of course, is the issue of public transport because it accounts for 70% of the trips in most developing cities. And public transport is an extremely precarious mode with all kinds of political problems and management problems and financial problems that are practically very difficult to unravel and have given rise to the appearance of a lot of unauthorized transit in many cities which makes the problem further difficult.
The problems here are how to create managerial strength and sources of financing for public transport, how to design and enact more adequate system integration. I mean network integration and fair integration, maybe management integration, which is very important and incidentally has been accomplished more in the recent past than it has during the earlier 30 years or so we've been trying to do it, probably because computer programs which can express and adjust to different management positions in the course of this integration are now possible and available.
Another possibility is to adopt new modes for more rapid transit service. And Dan also led me into that. The move that's currently taking the world by storm-- it's the most explosive innovation in my lifetime in public transport and possibly since the invention of the streetcar in the late 19th century. This is bus rapid transit. This is the very successful system of Bogotá, Colombia, called TransMilenio.
And here you have big buses with very wide doors. They're left loading, not right loading. They have independent dedicated rights of way and prepayments stations and all kinds of new electronics that expediate the movement of passengers and of vehicles, and promise to possibly keep the center cities alive during a process of rising congestion when they otherwise, as it's happened many times before, might become economically depressed.
There's also a system in Quito in Ecuador, and the original one in Curitiba in the state of Paraná in southern Brazil. They don't necessarily take up as much space as it seems here in some cases. They travel also in mixed traffic.
The third point I'd like to make concerns land use. It's in a way the hard part. The explosive decentralization of these cities has enabled people in a higher standard of living to take more advantage of all kinds of new technologies they didn't have before. And it's certainly necessary. These cities are far too dense for modern living, but they have at the same time created a number of important problems. Social fragmentation, the consumption of more fuel, more pollution, the consumption of agricultural land, and so forth.
So the challenges here are to permit, maybe even encourage decentralization, but at the same time constrain it so that it doesn't expand to the point of absorbing too much natural resources and also making the place extremely difficult to serve by any kind of structured transportation attention. The idea would be to cluster demand in the course of decentralization as much as possible in order to be able to handle transportation demand by higher volume means.
In the end, of course, what all of this is about is a need for the developing countries to raise the standards of living of their people. And so at the bottom of all of this is mobilizing the labor market; is reducing costs of production; reducing costs of distribution; improving the logistics system; and recognizing the fact that in the course of it, transportation infrastructure investments generally have very high rates of return; and can improve the situation when properly managed; and that private capital is increasingly interested in these.
And again, based I think on a lot of lessons learned during the past years and the use of computer models for working out the distinctions of obligations and responsibilities of different participating parties makes possible a relatively intricate public/private relationship to take place, and especially good assignment of risk to take place. And therefore some countries are developing transport systems which are highly privatized, particularly Turkey, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and a number of other countries.
So finally it's important also to design these solutions because otherwise you know by expanding the network without relieving the throttles you in effect worsen the condition rather than improve it. And that is unfortunately what's going on in some parts of the world. So these are some ideas I hope might be suitable for discussion up here and down there as time goes on, and I look forward to that discussion. Thank you very much for your attention, and now Dr. Coughlin on Driving Miss Daisy Digitally.
COUGHLIN: Yes, I am the lucky guy who's standing between you and the space station and lunch. And I'm going to talk about you all getting old. So that's a win-win situation I think. While we're setting up the technology, one of the things I wanted to have you think about is that as we think about all the great achievements over the past 100 years. Remember when we are all worried about the 2000 turnover and what it was going to do to the computers. Well, we were also making long lists of all the great technological achievements, many of them here at MIT.
We spoke of radar. We spoke of internet. We spoke of medical technology. We forgot one. Not just space travel, but we also forgot about the fact that in 1900 life expectancy was about 47. Today the fastest growing part of the population is-- and by the way, class participation is 10%. I will call on you. --fastest growing part of the population, 85 plus. So life expectancy now is well into your 70s and probably you can expect even better once you make that mark. And by the way, I have this up just so I make sure that one other person has the same hairstyle I do.
So I'll give you the good news that our cartoon here can show you. About 106 years to live for maybe some people in the future. But then it leaves us with a paradox. And as President Vest was talking about things that were uniquely MIT, I think this is a unique challenge that MIT helped contribute to, and now we are uniquely charged to solve.
And here it is. Now that you're living longer, what are you going to do? We rarely plan for success. We plan for public policy to have some problems. We plan for technology to be a try and fail and try and succeed solution. But we never really thought this longevity thing was actually going to work. So now that we're living longer, we have not even begun to think about where you're going to live, what are you going to do, and how are you going to get around?
And so I want to talk to you about the how we're going to get around part. However, before I do that, the age lab of which I'm part that we're doing is basically the charge that Sarah Knauss gave us. And she lived to 119 years old. And in fact if she had lived a few more hours she would've spanned three centuries. She died on December 31. Imagine that, 119 years. But she summed up I think one of the greatest research challenges ahead of us for the next 100 years. She enjoyed her longevity because she had her health and she could do things. That's it.
Now that we're living longer we need to find ways to help people maintain their health and help them do things. And that leaves us to transportation because for all the talk about the car and its problems and the like, it is the thing that most of us, particularly in North America, rely on. So here's the class participation part.
What is transportation? I mean we're talking about it. We're spending the day to it. I can wait by the way.
Spoken like a true civil engineer. Point A to point B. Yeah, it is that and it's a good way to model it. But think about it. Step out of your academic, your research, perhaps many of you engineering hats, and realize it's far more that transportation really is the very glue that allows you to get from point A to point B, but more importantly to connect all those little things that you take for granted called life together. Going to the cleaners, visiting your grandchild, doing all those things that you really take for granted.
So let me tell you some of the people that we've done research with about how they look at transportation, and it is more than going from point A to point B. They identify it as freedom, independence. And by the way, not having it is handicapped or disabled; and by the way, transportation in the United States, North America, and as we heard from my colleagues earlier, increasingly around the world is defined as driving. And by the way, the license is now being called in the gerontology literature as your personal asphalt identikit. In other words, that license is no longer just the thing that when you got to be 16 it was your rite of passage. This is your sticker that you are still independent and free to do as you will.
So let's put the quotes to the people we've done research with because we learn a lot more from our subjects than many cases. Imagine the following survey done in California a couple of years back. Top 10 fears. Being diagnosed with a fatal disease. I'd say that'd be up there, but think of this. Number two, losing the ability to drive, which interesting to my wife, was above a spouse being diagnosed with a fatal disease.
And speaking as a son it was also interesting that the financial security of an adult child was after that as well. Responses from people that we've talked to in the lab on the other hand-- and this is where we think about the problems with congestion pricing and the future of the car. This is where the car politics really comes down.
One woman told us that if she had to choose between steak or eating soup every day to have her car, she'd eat soup. Now, for you women this is the part one that I would be most worried about. You can always get another wife, but you can only get one driver's license. And so it really tells you what Miss and Mr. Daisy are thinking. But this is also the part of the dilemma around the automobile that makes the technology, the politics, also problematic, whether it's here in North America or around the world. This is not a transportation question. This is a social, emotional, independence and freedom issue.
So if you just think broadly, the population today is aging, is the fastest growing part of the population, but its population is more education, has greater health, more income-- by the way, women are going to play a greater role. In fact there's some studies out there that show that women have contributed to congestion in many ways. And I'll talk about that perhaps a little later at my own peril. --housing patterns, contributing to our dilemma of meeting the car.
Just very quickly, the older population today-- believe it or not, disability rates one could argue are at least sestatic or on the decline. The bottom line is most people have at least a chronic disease, but they're managing them well and they're continuing to want to get out there. We're having a longer period of wellness if you will.
Higher education. More people of college education than ever before, more people are using the internet. In fact, one of the fastest growing areas to retire in is not Florida, Arizona, Las Vegas, or even someplace like Costa Rica, but near a college campus to remain involved in those activities of life learning and productive living.
Larger incomes. Most of the people at 20% of the population are 50 plus. They control the majority of the income in the country. This is the same for most of Europe as well as Japan. The bottom line is, that think about the following. If you feel well, you have some disposable income and you have education. And this is probably not a very nice thing to say at an alumni event in particular, but let's not measure education in terms of how many years you stayed in school, but breadth of interests.
So if you've got all those things, you're going to want to get out. You're going to want to do something. But there's something that we've never thought about in transportation before that's just happened in the last 20, 30 years. And that is, aging in place is now taking place around the American dream. 50, 60 years ago the idea was to move to Levittown, move to those towns that were outside the city beyond the reach of public transportation.
Well, now what we're seeing are people are now aging in those places, in many cases isolation, where, frankly, even if you could walk two miles going to CVS on a Friday night is not exactly a trip out. So public transportation, it may be a good idea, but 70% of us in the United States live beyond where transit serves or where it serves well.
And by the way, think about the following. Public transportation is very good for people who've used it all their lives, but most Americans have not used it all their lives. And if you don't feel well enough to drive or you're going to wake up one day when you're say 76 and say, you know, I'll take the bus, it's not going to happen.
And this is where I get to blame my wife and her associates. Basically the next generation of women are not going to be like their mothers. Women today have more education than men in many areas. They have greater incomes than they've ever had before. And by the way, they are the primary purchasers of new cars on the markets today. The bottom line is they're going to be driving a lot more. And even if you look at the data today, women do not drive more miles than men, but they make more trips, which is also the other problem around public transportation. It's not a point A to point B algorithm. It's a matter of going from the cleaners to the day care to grandchild to visit uncle Joe, whoever it might be.
So you put all these things together and all of a sudden you start to see that the population that is aging where we once defined aging as retiring, staying home, golfing, whatever it is, is going to at least drive probably more miles than what we see today. And I find it funny that the US Department of Transportation where these data are from are suggesting that my wife and others are going to drive about the same as their mothers. And I don't think that's nearly going to be the case.
So there's a demand out there for transportation, but there's also a problem. The first chart on your left is what we euphemistically call as the bathtub chart. And what this is is the fatality rates by age group. Now, what the media like to do is they like to look at that-- particular when there's a tragic accident like Santa Monica a year ago with the fellow who killed a number of people in a farmer's market. --they like to look at them they say, oh my God, people over 75 and kids between 16 and 24, get them off the road.
Well, I look at this chart another way as we all know that lies and statistics are not very far apart. The first one is 15 to 24 is proof that octane, testosterone, and alcohol don't mix.
65 plus fatality rate is also proof that the engineers of today in the auto industry are designing the car for essentially-- well a little younger than me now. --the 5' 10" on a good day, 165 pound male. And if you're smaller, frailer, suffering from osteoporosis and sitting on top of that wheel, you will die. And so this is a public policy as well as an engineering challenge.
The same data I showed you before in terms of the demand for cars driving in the future indicate that if we have a car designed the way it is today and continue to have people trained to drive the way they are today, that the number of older adults that will die on American highways will be exactly the same that we can attribute to alcohol related deaths. 20,000 people on the road. That is 20,000 elderly people on the road.
Also, unfortunately, whereas traffic safety has improved for much of the population, the older population has decreased. So really we're looking at an issue of cars not being designed for older adults who want to drive more, cars that are not going to be suitable for women in general, and also a desire frankly, to get those numbers down for safety so that we can continue to participate fully in life.
That said, though, one of the things we should think about-- and this lady is 96-years-old. We interviewed her in Florida. She has herself tested every year voluntarily. She drives a very large Cadillac. I went for a ride with her. It was an interesting experience. She did a good job. A little slower than a Boston driver. And Ralph, I got very confused. Those pictures looked like they were Boston traffic cutting people off that way.
Self-regulation. This is how we govern mobility in the United States. That is older adults essentially take themselves off the road when they don't feel comfortable. Nighttime, bad weather, high traffic, whatever it might be. And that's one of the ways that they keep themselves very safe and perhaps the rest of us very safe.
But also think about the fact they're denying travel. When you don't go out you're denying part of your life. You're not going out to the show at night. You're not going out to eat. You're not visiting your grandchild. Whatever it might be. But that is the primary policy, if you will, of the United States.
So let me introduce you to the older driver. And before we go much further we were talking about an older driver. What is an older driver? Give me a number.
Careful. See, no. Aging gets close real soon, doesn't it? Yeah. Older than I am is usually a good answer. By the way, the typical answer if you want to quantify this is 15 years older than the respondent.
Well, let me tell you about the older driver. By the way, the older driver from an automobile standpoint is in your late 30s because I can tell you that you need 20 times more light to see at night by age 40 to see as well as you did at age 20. So any questions about talking about older drivers are getting pop off the road may want to start a lot sooner than we think. But maybe not justified.
So let's talk about reduced vision. Reduced of 45. By the way, 90% of us are wearing bifocals by age 50. State of Arizona has decided that aging begins at age 50 and started to regulate older drivers at that age. If you look at the picture on the right, this is what your typical 20-year-old sees in a nighttime situation versus a nighttime driving for a typical 60-year-old.
Also, macular degeneration is an increasing problem amongst older adults, whether it's wet or dry macular degeneration. And what starts to happen is that you lose your central vision, but as we age all of us start to lose our useful field of view. So things start to close in like this and you may start to have a problem in between, making it very difficult for that occasional bicycle or whatever it is that may dart out.
Impaired hearing. Isn't this the cheery part of the conversation? Impaired hearing by 50% of us most are impaired with some degree of hearing loss. Men in particular have a real problem. It's not that we're not listening to our wives. We often can't hear.
And as we talk about the smarter car, one of the things that a lot of us want to do is we want the talking car. You remember Nissan when they came out with the door is ajar? Well, very quickly we're looking for the fuse box underneath. Well for men, it was very difficult because they had put a woman's voice in there, higher pitch. Honest, we couldn't hear it and it was dropping out. So as we start to get older we have a more difficult time hearing these things and it makes it very difficult to make the car more helpful in that way.
Decreased strength and flexibility. Truly, if you don't stay in shape and fit, it becomes more difficult to turn that trunk. Left hand turns, the number one accident that an older adult has is making a left hand turn at an intersection. In part, it's because it's hard to turn that neck all the way. They did look, but as we age, we start to compensate and forget that we're not turning all the way to look. We're not using the mirrors as much.
In addition, that reduced strength makes the fact that that airbag, by the way, which was credited with killing a number of small children a number of years ago, one of the things that did not come out in the media is that the second part of the population that had the highest fatality rate were older women sitting on top of the wheel. So as they had osteoporotic frames and the like, when that airbag came out, that reduced strength and flexibility to get out of the way or move ended up killing and injuring them.
Well, attention and perception, this is the part that most have not focused on with the automobile. And that is is that as we age, our ability to maintain or manage, if you will, the cognitive load-- the things going on outside, the noisy kids in the back, perhaps the radio, the cell phone-- the other issue is let's go back to that left hand turn. Believe it or not, there is some data out there to suggest that men and women do drive differently. And I can make a lot of jokes around that. There is no scientific evidence about men not being able to use maps. Just the willingness to use them is in question.
But for instance, at that left hand turn, men have a very good shot at judging speed, far better than women do. On the other hand, women seem to have a far better idea at the distance. Either way, at that left hand turn, both are at a deficit. And often what you'll see is people what we call co-piloting. One's driving, the other one's advising. And in some cases, it's a coping strategy that I'm not sure I would advocate.
So let's talk about what can technology do. I mean, after all, we always looked at technology as the silver bullet. There is a part of Western political culture, that belief that technology is going to solve it. We just have to work hard at it and work around it. Well, this is the third age driving suit that Ford developed a number of years ago to take the average 27-year-old engineer and to give him the cheery feelings of neuropathy in their feet, reduced haptic strength and flexibility in their hands, vision, and said, OK, now drive.
What the car companies are looking at now is the convergence, if you will, of multiple information technologies-- intelligent transportation systems such as Dan Roos was speaking about earlier-- bringing more intelligence to the car. Enabling, for instance, the night vision. Some of you may have this in some of your vehicles, enabling you to see in poor weather or at nighttime, things that you would have a more difficult time to see. Collision warning systems, again, with the voice telling you that you're either getting too close or someone is getting too close to you.
The difficulty is, as your bandwidth between the ears begins to reduce, the car companies and engineering innovations out there are asking us to bring more and more into the car. So here's the challenge ahead of us. Is it possible in some cases that technology can be too much of a good thing? And as Toyota put here, if you can see the advertisement there says, engineers tend to get bored making cup holders. Well, the idea here now is we're trying to put as much gadgetry in the car-- navigation systems, collision warning systems.
Very soon you're going to be driving by your local shopping mall. They're going to have the zip code your car's registered in, the driver's license, whether you're male or female, and your relative age. And lo and behold, you're going to get an advertisement in your car from Brooks Brothers, Ann Taylor, whomever you think it might be. Well, problem now is how do you design all these things that may very well be innovative and be able to manage the very challenges that older drivers present to the engineering community into the car companies.
Because here's the paradox. These innovations are not going to go into the Ford Focus. They're going to go into the high end platforms, the Lexus, the Cadillac, the Buick. Who buys those? The 50 plus. So the very first guinea pigs for the new technology are those who have developed a 40 or 50 year mental model of how to drive the old way.
So let's talk about the real estate and design issue. This is a 2001 and a 2002 Taurus dashboard. Same equipment package. One of the things that you find out with older drivers that younger drivers have a bit of this difficulty as well, but as we age and our vision becomes more difficult, we have a different timing on how to find something on the dashboard. It's called target time. So where's the knob, find it, turn it, go back to the driving task.
Same equipment package on this dash. However, the car companies are actually-- Ford in this case-- is having a challenge of do you spread it out, which means while you're driving you're trying to look and scan. Or do you put in one place, which means you're trying to look and sort it out? So there's really no quick solution on what that ideal design should be.
Data fusion or confusion? As we bring more and more things into the car, are we actually challenging that perception problem that older adults have, and in some cases, younger adults-- you know, younger adults, in some of the research we've done with warning systems, for instance, in the vehicle-- do not have a advantage over older people using technology in the car. Older adults have something that none of us have until we get to be older, experience. They have judgment.
Well, there's a problem with the technology. It's not that they don't want the technology. It's that when a warning goes off, we've found that older people want to like pause and look around. I didn't see why the warning went off. Why did it go off? Younger people, on the other hand, have such a belief in the technology that when it goes off, that's the only time they look. Or they don't look at all. They wait until the warning goes off.
So if one day that technology doesn't work-- and I know that all of you believe that it's always 100% effective-- you could have a toddler or a trike behind the car. And people were now finding in our simulation, as well as on road tests, that are stopping and not looking any longer versus the older drivers are being distracted by looking for that technology as to why it's gone off at all.
So do we design an old man's car? Absolutely not. As the adage in the auto industry goes, you don't design an old man's car because a young man won't buy it. But frankly, neither will a young man. Or an old man, as well. So what we're doing at the lab-- and this is Miss Daisy, a Volkswagen bug. Basically, there were three reasons why we had it. One, it was relatively small until we got it in the room. And as you know, parking at MIT, the problem-- and this continues, continues the tradition of putting cars in strange places at the Institute.
One, it was relatively small. Two, better yet, it was free. And three, could you think of a car that was more symbolic of the aging Baby Boom population? So this is our platform to try to better understand the ultimate design of technology and the older driver to do something that we really need to do, get around. I don't care whether it's car, by foot, by public transportation, but you're not living until you can visit all those little activities that you call life. And hope to translate that longer life and driving to look something like this. Thanks you very much.
VEST: Joe, if you and Ralph will please come over to the side of the stage. Thank you for those wonderful presentations. I was reminded of an interview I read about a few years ago when this remarkable older woman in France, who was way over 100, who remembered Vincent van Gogh as young girl and so forth, was asked by a reporter, what do you think about the future. And her answer was, it will be short.
So we're going in the same format. We've got about 10 or 12 minutes for questions. Those of you who have questions, please get behind the mics. Keep them to 30 seconds. And let's keep on that track. Sir.
AUDIENCE: Ignoring the issues of the wildly overcrowding of the roads in India and China-- look like they have already, not even moving in the future-- what's your projected impact on oil consumption in the world? I mean, the Saudis have come up with two extra million barrels a day just to keep our prices down a little bit. What's going to happen when China triples their consumption and India does the same?
GAKENHEIMER: Oh, it's going to be imported. I really don't have a commentary on that question. I work mostly at the urban level. And there are people here, particularly Ernie Muniz, who probably would have a better answer for that than I would. So I'm going to defer.
AUDIENCE: Hi. I'm curious when automobile driving will really become automatic in the sense that we'll be able to sit back and read a newspaper and really let the technology completely take over and take us from point A to point B?
COUGHLIN: I don't if you saw it, it just came out this week, Bob Lutz was credited-- design guru in the auto industry-- was credited with making the commentary that he sees it coming very soon. And he has declared driving is dead, which was very interesting because he didn't have that position a few years ago when he took the job. The problem I see is that whether it's the older population or the younger population, one of things that we forget about is that often driving is for enjoyment.
And even if we can move beyond that because driving is getting less and less enjoyable with congestion and all the things that go along with that, it's not just a matter of whether the car can drive itself. The infrastructure is that other part of the equation. And we may be able to do it for interstates. We may be able to do it for Memorial Drive. But the places we go to tend to be so intricate of a pattern that it's probably going to take a number of decades similar to what it took to create the American dream in suburbia to make that happen.
VEST: Yes, sir.
AUDIENCE: Thank you very much. As one who thought it was a good idea to require a driver's test when you're 75 and then was pretty much insulted when I had to take it, I ask a question, what do you see out there now available? Is there anything, I'm going to be buying a new car a year or two, what could I look for now that is focused on some of this? Or do you think that it's going to be off three or four years before you have some of these devices and things you're talking about, even if it is a high end car?
COUGHLIN: A lot of the technologies are out there, the collision warning systems and the like, extended mirrors. The problem is is that as consumers, we have to do our research. Despite the fact the 50 plus population has the majority of disposable income, the auto industry loathes to talk to us. And so the bottom line is you're going to have to do your own homework to find out what's out there. And more importantly, you're going to have to teach yourself or find a driver education school to teach you how to use those devices and those technologies. Because the dealers just simply don't know how to do it.
AUDIENCE: This relates to urban engineering. Isn't it true that the largest waste, underlying waste, of fuel comes from stopped and stopping automobiles? And this is a measurable quantity.
GAKENHEIMER: That's certainly the case. Yeah. And the consequence is that opportunities for making traffic more efficient through something like congestion pricing and by other means through driver advisory electronics and so forth are possibilities for ultimately saving some fuel consumption.
AUDIENCE: Well, there was considerable discussion this morning on the more increasingly crowded driving environment in developing countries. One solution that I didn't hear mentioned at all was population control. That is, to limit population growth or maybe even allow it to decrease. And I welcome your comments on that.
GAKENHEIMER: These are, ain't easy questions to answer. Of course, the Chinese are very good at population control and have restricted families to one child. And this has resulted in the fact, of course, that those increases in GNP, in total GNP are very telling. Because that GNP is not spread over a large population. But looking over the whole-- and of course, the Indian family is not getting any smaller. So there is a difference in the future suggested by those considerations.
There is a whole bunch of different sort of third and fourth level issues here. One of them is the control of city size, which was once a popular concern, but generally speaking has dropped out in favor of other things. The overall concern for population control, the consequences that AIDS will have on African populations and the growth of transportation problems in that region is also a subject worth considering.
And it nonetheless appears to be the case that large urban populations are present, population control in general doesn't affect them very much. Because even in places like China where the population is not growing, the cities are because of a rural to urban movement that's bound to continue. And as the administration becomes more, less forceful, will be further accelerated.
So it's a situation where the principal controls, I believe, are primarily on getting a grip on the land use possibilities in order to have a geometry that's easily served by contemporary technologies on the one hand, and using techniques that require more socially effective use of automobiles, such as congestion pricing on the other. And incidentally, I don't expect that to have any consequence at all, as sometimes suggested, on the reduction of the purchase of motor vehicles. In fact, it could even incentivize them because it provides the possibility for using a car under circumstances that if you're willing to pay a small congestion price rather than being stuck in traffic all the time.
AUDIENCE: There is certainly some opportunity for removing some cars from the road through people having a rental car for a period of time when they need to use it. And instead of having two cars, there's zip cars, of course. Wouldn't it be good public policy to provide a lot of public education on the options that are available. I think a lot of people would use more options if they were educated about them.
GAKENHEIMER: Both of us could answer, attempt to answer that. Education is certainly extremely important. And concentrated efforts to educate people are in programs I could mention all over the world, trying to educate children to cope with traffic better in order to avoid accidents with children, educating cyclists in order to stop creating problems of the sort I described, educating motorists to take advantage of driver advisory systems, and possibly taking advantage of Zipcar-like systems.
Although they are not as easily adapted to America as they were to Europe because they basically assume a quite substantial public transport system useful for most of the trips of a person who gives up his car. And it also has problems in the developing world where there are a lot of unlicensed drivers and other complications. But certainly, education is extremely important.
COUGHLIN: A piece of work we're doing that plays into that, by the way, is also to what point, to what matter is transportation part of your retirement planning. We've defined retirement in this country around your health insurance and your 401k. Well, retiring someplace where there are no alternatives other than the community van may make you, essentially sentence you to isolation in the very symbol of your success, your home, is several miles from anywhere.
AUDIENCE: Obviously, the capacity of the urban highway system is not adequate for peak loads, but is adequate for other times of day. And we heard more about the hot lanes and these things. What kind of capacity increase is latent in the system if we do a lot of electronic information system kind of work, as we were hearing about? And it strikes me as it would be a lot cheaper per mile to do that than to try to build another lane of highways in cities.
GAKENHEIMER: Certainly a lot cheaper to do that. In the case of something like congestion prices, of course, you can choose your own number. And the level of traffic more or less corresponds inversely to the amount of the charge. In Singapore, for example, they tried widely different levels for a long period of time until they basically fine tuned the situation to the level where, in Singapore, there is basically no congestion at any time in the center of the city. Sounds like somebody disagrees. Maybe it's changed since the last I saw it.
But in any case, it's a whole different scene, I assure you, than places where there's no control. So the whole question of how much congestion can be reduced is frankly in the hands of the graduation of leverage on that. And basically, the limit is political rather than anything else. The question is, how much will the voter tolerate an increased charge of using a congested street to the extent necessary to make a significant gain on congestion.
AUDIENCE: I very much appreciate your pointing out that to an older person, the ability to move around is everything. But I think it's true of all age groups. The car appears to appeal to something visceral in the human psyche no matter where people are or how much money they have. And so it appears that in effect what we're seeing is engineers have overdone the job. We've made the automobile too attractive. And we're using it at a rate which is not sustainable.
And therefore, we're trying to look, as engineers, we have no engineering solution. We're looking to the politicians to bail us out by raising taxes to make cars artificially unattractive so people will use them at a sustainable rate. That sounds, everything you're saying sounds like a confession of failure as a technologist. And you're saying we're talking about public policy here to get us out of a situation that we engineers have created for ourselves. Is that more or less how you people interpret the situation?
GAKENHEIMER: I don't know how to respond to that question except that you simply, you pretty much have the equation right, I think. But we're waiting for you to suggest to the manufacturers to make vehicles less attractive.
COUGHLIN: The other part of that is that science and engineering is never done. It's evolutionary. So we just do the next step.
VEST: One last question.
AUDIENCE: Well, maybe part of that can be answered by this question or maybe it can't. I don't know. But at any rate, an automobile is two things. It's a container for you and your possessions and your friends. And it's an piece of apparatus to move that container and provide it with power to do so. And therefore, can we separate those two? Maybe the container can be moved by rubber tires. Maybe it can be moved by a flatbed truck. Maybe it can be moved by rail. Maybe it can move by the water.
GAKENHEIMER: There have been various initiatives attempting to create extremely high density guide ways, which transfer the box to a train-like function once it's on a main corridor, and then permitting it to return to independent operation once it reaches its destination. The problems, I think, is first, it's not clear how much that would actually improve total capacity.
But secondly, that it would require a difficult transition. It couldn't be transitioned incrementally. It would require the public to buy large amounts of automobiles capable of those two bimodal performances all at once in order to make the infrastructure worthwhile and the space it occupies worthwhile.
VEST: Did so well we'll take one final really quick question.
AUDIENCE: This is for Joe Coughlin, primarily. I belong to that group that believes that older drivers are about 15 years older than me. But I have to confess, I have noticed my diminishing acuity. And so I take it seriously. You described the problems that older drivers have behind the wheel. What would you say are the two or three most promising developments that are coming along that will make that a lot better?
COUGHLIN: Probably the vision enhancement such as night vision is one. Because the number one thing that older drivers complain about, indeed have a difficult time with is with night vision and contrast sensitivity. Secondly would be some of the collision systems that are coming out there to help judge speed and distance. Although there's a lot of bugs to be gotten out of there.
I'm sure that the legal community will make their fair share of money on the systems when they do not work. And then third, always look to low tech as being your first order of defense. One is really look for those mirrors, pedal extensions, seat adjustments that will make the car that you live in today, if you will, safer so you can move around tomorrow.
VEST: Next year, when someone else is president, we are going to have a session at Technology Day on congestion pricing for population control. But in the meantime, please thank our speakers.
I'm very pleased at this time to introduce a very special guest, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Fink of the United States Air Force. Mike will be with us shortly through a link from the International Space Station. A member of the class of 1989. And while we regret, while we regret that he is not physically here for the 15th reunion events, we are very fortunate that he will be joining us virtually this morning.
At MIT, Mike was an Air Force ROTC-- Hi, Mike. This is Chuck Vest down here on Earth. He holds a dual SB in Aeronautics and Astronautics in Earth Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. He went through the Russian program and spent a summer in the Aviation Institute in Moscow. He entered the Air Force after earning a master's degree in Aero-Astro at Stanford in 1990. He was chosen by Nasa to become an astronaut in 1996, one of only 35 candidates selected from 2,400 applicants.
He headed for a six month mission on the International Space Station in mid-April aboard a Soyuz rocket launched from Kazakhstan. He spent four years in training with his crewmate, Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka. Excuse me. Mike and Commander Padalka have had full schedules while in space, with a workload just about the same as that of a normal three person team. They will perform two spacewalks over the summer as they ready the space station to receive a cargo ship from the European Space Agency.
Mike, welcome to your reunion. I wonder if you could just explain to us a little bit of the goals of the International Space Station.
FINK: President Vest, thank you very much for your kind introduction. I'd like to check our coms. Can you hear me?
VEST: We can hear you very well.
FINK: Well, when we were setting this up with NASA, they were wondering if we'd be able to get a good audio and video. And I can see you guys great. I'm glad you guys can hear me. And I said if anybody could do great audio and video, it's MIT. Thank you very much. The International Space Station is symbolic of what human beings can do when we work together constructively and not destructively. It's a great aerospace engineering enterprise. And it's also a good place to do science.
And I've personally been amazed the difference in fluids and other materials in freefall or microgravity environment than I expected, even though I had all the physics background-- thanks to MIT-- to understand what was supposed to be going on. But it's absolutely amazing when surface tension is much more of a factor than say gravity. So there's so many interesting things that we can do up here. And Gennady and I are working hard to try to succeed with the mission of the International Space Station. And you mentioned workload. This is nothing compared to what Unified was about.
VEST: I understand, Colonel, that one of the experiments you're working on involves tiny satellites developed by the MIT Space Systems Laboratory. Could you give us a little bit about that?
FINK: Absolutely. First off, the MIT folks came in and like normal, regular MIT folks, they had all their, they had their act together. They had a really outstanding plan that they thought outside the box. And I can say that NASA needs more people like that to work on our programs and such payloads. The MIT [INAUDIBLE] program is absolutely amazing. It's pure three body motion, dynamics, control systems in action. And not only that, it also offer-- let me describe it first.
First, these are a series of small spheres. And small being maybe the size of a soccer ball or a football. And they're about, they're round and they can float around and they have active control systems. And that's pretty important. My [INAUDIBLE] system isn't always very good up here in space even though I've been up here a month and a half already. It's still tough to stay in the same spot constantly.
But in addition, not only are they going to try to fly one little sphere around, but there are spheres in formation. And this is all with an active ultrasound control system. Ultrasound gives the awareness of the environment. And these are the kinds of things that we need help with aboard the space station, especially if we only have two people. But even if we have six or seven, these spheres can actually, eventually, the same kind of control laws can really help us.
For example, even if we took one of these outside, we don't have the ability to take a look at all of our spacecraft with our cameras onboard. So if we need to know what's going on the outside, sometimes we have to send out people. And that takes a lot of overhead. But if we could send out a sphere, even if it's a little bit of artificial intelligence on it, and say, hey, go check out that port starboard camera or go look at that antenna for us, that'll be a great help for us. So this is a very exciting project. And I'm glad to be part of it.
VEST: Thank you. Mike, of course, one of the great things about the space station, and specifically about the work that you and your Russian colleague are doing at the moment, is its international nature. I wonder if you could comment a little bit through your experience on how the space station has worked as an international collaboration and what you see for the future in that regard.
FINK: Well, that's one of my favorite talking points of all time. And there's a lot of things I want to say about that. But first, I want to say that MIT set me up very nicely in my career and in my life to be ready for this next wave of globalization that we're experiencing right now.
This morning's program, you guys talked about the automobile industry. And I think you're talking about that a little bit more this afternoon. The automobile industry was one of the first trendsetters for multinational corporations, multinational and globalization. To some people, these are bad things. I think it's a really good thing. It really shows what we can do working together beyond a national borders.
The International Space Station is a symbol but it's also practical. Well, let me tell you, when I got here in 1996, the experience I had through MIT and the exchange program with Moscow, the Asian Institute, NASA snapped me right up and threw me straight over to Russia. And we started working some of the issues of how to run an International Space Station.
Needing parts and pieces that were built in one country, first time that they ever met and worked with the other parts-- like say two modules-- was not on the ground, which is how we like to do things in the aerospace business. You know, test, test, test, and then fly. Well, we, first time a lot of these modules ever worked with each other was up in space. And I used to think only in Star Trek that things worked right the first time.
But with the space station, it showed that with careful organization and planning, we can make these things work correctly. And that human beings, we really are starting to understand our technology. And that the lessons that we've learned working together with our Russian partners, with our European partners and our Japanese partners can really set the stage for expanding human presence in the skies and on the way to the moon and to Mars.
VEST: Thank you, Mike. The following question, I don't mean at all in a political sense. But I think it's really important. As you know, the nation is about to recommit itself to the concept of space exploration, with a big emphasis on the word exploration. And that has triggered down here on Earth a lot of debate about the relative merits of human spaceflight for exploration and robotic or technological spaceflight for science. I will personally state that I believe we need both. And getting the balance right is very important. I wonder if you could share with us a little bit of your observations on how the human and robotic space program's balance together.
FINK: I personally agree with you that we do need both. We can't do one without the other. There are some proponents of a pure robotics [INAUDIBLE]. And this is an old argument, of course. And our robots are getting better and better. And that's really good. That's going to be helpful. But we can't really do it, they can't do everything that human beings can do. And my commander and I are an example of that. We have a power supply that controls one of our control moment gyroscopes. And it kind of went out. And right now robots couldn't go out and fix it. Gennady and I can, and we give that extra capability to the space station.
So we need to have a balance of both. And as we explore, we really need to have both. For example, when we went to the moon, every place that we went was carefully mapped out by robot explorers. And there are some MIT grads over the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who are exploring Mars ahead of time for the humans that are about to come. And this is the strength of MIT, of course. They're working with their teammates that come from other universities, too. But we're here at the forefront of it and some of us are from the class of '89.
VEST: A lot of applause. Colonel, are there any other things that you would like to say to those of us who are gathered here? Any messages that you would like to pass along to your fellow MIT alumni?
FINK: I miss MIT. 15 years ago, and everybody who is an alumnus in front of me said, you know, it goes by fast. And boy, it really does. And I'm sure I'll probably feel that way after 20 and 25 years. But the nice thing about having time is it's given me a little bit of perspective. And the view we have on the planet from up here gives me some more perspective.
And what MIT does is very important. The mission of MIT, the way that MIT goes about teaching its students, and the way that MIT is not afraid to be world class, these are very important things to the entire planet. And so I'd like to suggest to the alumni, and challenge the class of 1989, to contribute towards MIT a little bit more. Nobody paid me to say that. This comes from my heart. And I wish I, at some time, selected a profession that paid more so that I could give more.
But really, what we're doing is very important at MIT. And it's important for the entire planet. I truly, sincerely believe that. And I'd like to thank my classmates for ending this reunion and letting me have some time here today. And I'd like to thank the people that put this video conference together because I really was sad I couldn't come to this year's reunion.
VEST: Mike, if you'll forgive me for making a brief kind of personal comment, I had the great honor back in 1994 of serving for a year as chairman of a presidential committee on the redesign of the space station. And that group, among other things, worked together with NASA to make this a truly international venture and to change the orbital inclination so that you would, in fact, be able to get access from Baikonur via the Soyuz.
And I think my colleagues who came up and worked on those ideas would be as proud today as I am to have had a little piece of this. It's just a real thrill to talk to you out there. We're very grateful. And you stand as just a remarkable role model for the young men and women studying here at MIT to think about the potential that is out there. So if you have any last closing comments, now's the time. But we all then are going to thank you enormously for participating with us today.
FINK: You have built a beautiful, incredible space station. And I'd like to thank you, President Vest, for your work on the space station. It really is really an incredible piece of machinery, incredible piece of engineering, a great symbol for what human beings can do. And it's a great laboratory. And we're working hard aboard and on the ground to realize the full potential of the space station. Things are going slower than we expected. But that's the nature of engineering. That's the nature of technology.
But we're not going to give up. And we're going to continue on with the space station's mission. And the young men and women of today have a great potential future. And places like MIT can really help them realize that potential. MIT helped me realize my potential and I'll forever be grateful. So thank you for letting me appear in front of you today. And it's a real joy and pleasure. And I just wish I were there in person. President Vest, thank you very much. And thanks to all the people that put this conference together.
VEST: Well, that was one huge message to you, wishing you well, thanking you for what you're doing for the nation, the world, and wishing you a safe journey home. We hope to see you here on campus next year. Thank you.
MCKAY: Wow. Unbelievable. Can you imagine? I was asked if I could somersault onto the stage since I needed to follow that. Joe, be thankful you don't need to follow this. Well, we've got another first for Tech Day here to usher us into lunch. This is a 15 second audience participation segment. So all you folks on the left, when I do this, you're going to go vroom. Shall we try it?
MCKAY: Pretty good. Keep it short, a little more diaphragm. Not bad. You folks over here on my right, you're going to go erp.
MCKAY: Pretty good. All right.
MCKAY: Now that's an original composition. I call it 1,000 freshmen at a flashing red light. Thank you for holding your groans until the end. That's good. So I'm Keith McKay. I'm the chair of the Tech Day committee. And I'm told we have a record turnout here today. And we really want to thank you for that. Those of you who are alumni know the phrase IHTFP. Many of you have stated this, some of you at the top of your lungs. And after I graduated, I came up with my own personal variant of this, which is Institute has the finest people.
And you know it's been exhibited this morning by our panelists, by Beth Garvin, by President Chuck Vest, by Colonel Fink, and I really want to thank you all. Thank you. Thank you. It's also been exhibited by Lou Alexander of the alumni office, who was the guide for our committee and who really made all of this happen. And by my alumni colleagues on the committee, Kimberly Ann Frances, Mindy Garber, Kim Hunter, Leon Katz, Bill Laich, Eric Peterson, Mary Schaefer, David Stork, Cherica Valla, and Doug Vincent, who will serve as next year's chair. It's been a real pleasure to serve with you all. And you can see what kind of a group it takes to make this all happen.
If you know a committee member, thank them, and then tell them how to top this program next year. If you don't know a committee member, jot your ideas on the survey and fill in the rest while you're at it. That's in your packet. As you might expect of an MIT group, we do actually read the surveys and use them as a feedback mechanism to help improve the program. But it's, you know, it's a feedback system. It's a collaborative system. It only works if you fill out the forms. So thank you for doing that.
Finally, there are two housekeeping announcements and a teaser for this afternoon. And I'll let you get to lunch. So the lunch is in the tent. Actually, I'm sorry, it's in Johnson Athletic Center. Correct? So round to the left, building over here, you can't miss it. Lunch runs from 12:30 to 2 PM. Number two, we've been lucky enough to get some vehicles from Selectria and from the MIT solar powered car team for our own mini car show outside. So you should enjoy those after stepping outdoors. And if you found this morning as fascinating as I did, you'll all want to return this afternoon for more shifting gears.
We don't have breakout lectures like we've often had in the past. But rather another panel that will explore, based on some of the problems of this morning, where this is all going or where it might go. Now Garrison Keillor said that an education is like four wheel drive. You just get stuck in more remote places. And this afternoon, our panelists will help us to test that hypothesis. I guarantee you're all going to walk away with some new ideas to explore. And join me here. Enjoy the car show and your lunch and we'll see you back here this afternoon.
GARVIN: Good afternoon. That work? Yay. I found out the role of the executive vice president is just to test the sound system. That's the only reason I'm up here. I was struck this morning when Derry Capsinel mentioned that he had an electric car. My husband and I were some of the first lucky owners to get the first Prius when it came out in the United States. And I just wondered if there are other people here who are driving hybrids or electric cars or anything else perceived as an alternative vehicle. How many do we have?
It is not an uncommon sight on the MIT campus to see a Prius these days. The lot I park in, were up to three. And that's a lot of about 30 cars. So I think we are early adapters to these things and I'm proud to be part of that. It's my pleasure to introduce our afternoon moderator.
We're very privileged to have Norman Augustine here with us to play that role today. As I think almost all of you know, he is the retired Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin and has been not a stranger to MIT campus as a former member of the MIT Corporation. He will lead us through the afternoon. And without further ado, Norman.
AUGUSTINE: Well, I had no idea when Chuck asked me to do this that he was here to bring a bunch of astronauts in as part of his show. He's a tough person to follow. There was an engineer who was streaking down the highway in his brand new bright red hybrid vehicle sports car. He looked at the rear view mirror and to his utter amazement, he saw this three legged chicken racing and coming up right behind him. This chicken passed him, went around him, and went into a barn.
So he stopped, pulled off the road, went over by the barn where there was a farmer. He said to this farmer, you know, that's amazing. I thought I saw a three legged chicken. Farmer said, well, you did. He said, we like drumsticks around here. Said, we've been doing a lot of research and development, been pretty successful. The engineer said, you know, I'm astounded. He said, how do they taste? Farmer said, dunno, we never caught one.
Now that's a pathetic way to introduce the afternoon topic. I had to reach. But we've been doing a lot of research and development. We've gotten some very high performance. But almost no one has caught one yet. And so we want to talk a little bit about the prospects for new ideas and the possibility that they will become more commonly used.
Chuck gave his credentials as a car owner. As an aeronautical engineer, I probably need to do that too. I have six cars. And included in them are a beautiful, bright red 1969 Corvette Stingray and a bright red 1969 Mustang Grande. And they fill the garage so my new Mercedes sits out in the snow and the rain. I have to confess, at this weekend when I went around trying to start them, three of them wouldn't start. All of which proves, as you all know, that they say about people that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Well, engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.
My first car was a 1959, beautiful gull-wing Chevrolet. You remember that? And I've never forgiven Life Magazine. They put out an issue on the 10 ugliest cars in history. We finished second. The fact is, though, that very few people can argue that the automobile has an enormous impact on our lives today. Certainly, it's improved the lifestyles for many, many people.
Just one example, I happened to notice just yesterday a copy of one of these magazines that puts out a list of the largest, in their words, manufacturing companies in the world. And their list of the largest manufacturing companies, let me read you the first dozen names. And as I read about them, think about what they have in common. The order goes as follows, Exxon Mobile, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, General Motors, Daimler Chrysler, Ford, Toyota, General Electric got on there somehow, Total, Chevron Texaco, Volkswagen, and Conoco Phillips. Not hard to see the impact of the automobile on the way we live.
But as we all know, there's always another side to the coin. Sadly, on the order of 3,000 people will die today in automobile accidents around the world. In Los Angeles alone, some 400,000 person years will be wasted this year due to traffic congestion. I read a couple of years ago that today, or at that time, the average speed in traveling through central London on a weekday was exactly what it was in 1850.
Also, cars, SUVs, and other light vehicles produce about 16% of the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are produced in the United States. And as we know, our appetite for oil makes us vulnerable to actions of people throughout some of the most contentious areas of the world. I serve on the board of a petroleum company and I've come up with another of Augustine's widely unremembered laws. This one says that political instability creates oil bearing geological formations. That's my second newest law. I'll throw in the other one that I have a lot of data on. And that is that tornadoes are caused by trailer parks.
But it all gets much more complicated than this. And it will get more complicated in the future. It's been estimated that there will be 70 million new cars, additional cars on US highways 15 years from now. And as Dan Roos pointed out to us this morning so well, that if we're to solve this we have to view it as a systems problem that it indeed is because of the many couplings that tie to the automobile.
Just yesterday, I saw an example that a friend of mine who lives not far from the Newark Airport came down to see me in Washington. And it turned out he drove his car down. And when I asked him about that, he said that his answer was, he said that airline flight has become so unpleasant, he said I've extended my no fly zone from 200 to 500 miles. And as more and more people do that, we're going to see, I think, more and more complications in our traffic patterns.
Well, this afternoon we're going to hear some answers about what we should do about all this. We've got two of the most qualified people I can possibly imagine, both happily who've been friends of mine, and two people that I have such great respect for their ability to think out of the box. You probably would know them. They will be speaking in our order, Ernie Moniz and Dean Kamen. Just a very brief introduction so that I don't take much of their time.
Ernie, of course, is a professor of physics and director of energy studies in the Laboratory for Energy and Environment here at MIT. He previously served our country as Undersecretary of the Department of Energy and as Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. And previously, he was head of the physics department here at MIT. To give you an idea of the diversity of his background, he is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Our second speaker, Dean Kamen. Dean is probably the most innovative person I've ever run across, an inventor extraordinaire. He is the inventor of the Segway vehicle that I'm sure you've seen a great deal of on TV. In fact, Dean and I saw one driving down the sidewalks in Washington yesterday. We heard this morning about how many countries are going from two wheels to four. Dean is trying to take America from four to two. That's how far ahead he is.
Dean's diverse contributions range all the way from dialysis machines to transporters that are capable of climbing stairs. Perhaps the thing he will be most remembered for, or at least that he should be the most remembered for in my opinion, was that he founded an organization called First, the intention of which is to encourage young people, young boys and girls to become interested in science, technology, and to pursue careers in those fields. And hopefully he'll tell us a little bit about that when he speaks. Dean holds the National Medal of Technology presented by the President of the United States.
So with those introductions, let me turn to our first speaker. Ernie, the platform is yours.
MONIZ: Thank you, Norm. In fact, having our two sessions today chaired by Norm and by Chuck Vest reminds me that, certainly when I was in the government until roughly noon on January 20, 2001, that Chuck and Norm were a fantastic one-two punch in Washington for promoting basic science, promoting university government partnerships.
Chuck kind of invented the role of the university president speaking for this national interest. And Norm was kind of the articulate, private sector industry spokesmen. And they were very, very critical voices at that time for supporting basic research. So thanks again, Norm, for that that support back then. Anyway, let's turn to the business.
And I will start with some truth in advertising of this title in my talk, which is really a string of nouns-- oil, security, environment, technology. And I will be focusing more on the fuel side of the equation. And I must confess the truth in advertising is that, frankly, this talk or a good part of it is really the most non-disruptive technology discussion that you will hear today.
It perhaps should be called the persistence of oil, more or less the perfect transportation fuel, as John Heywood alluded to this morning. And but also discussing the forces that may or may not ultimately curb our increasing reliance on oil. So let's start with the praises of oil.
As a reference point, we can go to the kind of folk music library and recall John Henry, the steel driving man, who took on the steam hammer. Now we're going to do some 801. I'm sure you all remember final year, 801 arithmetic. So let's say that John Henry lifts his 10 kilogram sledgehammer 3 meters every 3 seconds for 10 hours. That's a pretty good day's work. 3 and 1/2 megajoules.
Well, a gallon of gasoline for which you and I go out and pay $2 delivered to our neighborhood or anywhere we want it, very conveniently dispensed at ambient pressure and temperature, carries about 125 megajoules, about 40 times that day's work, even with a 10% efficiency save conversion to mechanical work. Pretty good deal.
Natural gas, by the way, just to give you other reference points-- underlining what is obviously why we had this transformation during the Industrial Revolution-- natural gas delivered to my house here in Brookline, pretty far away from the source, is about $12 a gigajoule. And coal that, of course, we no longer want delivered to our neighborhoods, gets to the power plant somewhere out there at about $2 a gigajoule. Now the electricity that comes from that plant to my house I pay about $35 per gigajoule.
But a couple of points here. One, again, fossil fuels are extraordinarily good energy sources and inexpensive when put up against any kind of rational measure of what they do for us. And secondly, one point that I'll come back to in transportation. Noting this electricity delivered to your house translated into work, being rather more expensive, a reminder.
Electricity is an energy carrier from the primary fuel. There's a conversion involved. It's more expensive. 2/3 of the energy typically will be lost to heat. But of course we use it because we like its convenience, its cleanliness at the point of use, and we simply can afford to pay for it. The analog to electricity in the transportation sector is hydrogen, an energy carrier, not a primary fuel.
But let me note right now-- we'll come back to it later-- that even liquid hydrogen, not a very convenient fuel for our cars, still has only about a quarter the volume energy density of gasoline. And so hydrogen really is not the best transportation fuel unless you want to travel vertically, like Michael for the space station. Then it's very good, has a very good mass energy density. But hydrogen is unlikely to have the impact that electricity has due to convenience. It may have it, of course, due to cleanliness and environmental concerns. And we'll come back to that later on.
So anyway, bottom line, we shouldn't be surprised fossil fuels today account for about 85% of world energy use. Transportation depends almost entirely on oil. Coal, major uses in electricity, more than half of ours here in the United States. Natural gas for electricity and heating. Of these, the demands of mobility make the transportation displacement of fossil fuel probably the most difficult to contemplate.
So in the absence of externalities like security of supply and environmental stewardship, technology and performance do not drive us to look for a changed paradigm, if you like, in terms of transportation. In fact, fossil fuels are so valuable because they're so cheap. And you make it up in volume, basically. So I will discuss these externalities, security and environment, to see how they may or may not influence the trajectory of our transportation technology.
So let's turn to security of supply. How much is there of this stuff, can I get it, and at what price? By the way, the same considerations would largely, are increasingly applied to natural gas. First of all, we are not running out of oil. There's about a trillion barrels of conventional reserves in the world, many decades worth at let's say 100 million barrels per day, which we are likely to reach in say, 10 or 15 years. I mean, as some like to say, the Stone Age did not end for lack of stones. And that's likely to be true for oil as well, at least for quite some time.
Now, there are some problems. The distribution of this reserve unfortunately has very poor geographical correlation with demand. This is Augustine's law, apparently. And specifically, about 57% of oil reserves are in the Mideast and 2/3 are, in general, in OPEC countries. Second, the cost is likely to be increasing. I say cost and not price, as one, of course, is going farther along the oil production curve. But don't forget, price is, objectively speaking, still pretty low.
However, for alternative supply paths that we will now come to, cost increase can be very important in impacting the opportunity for alternative supply to penetrate the market. Now this distribution of oil has raised major public concerns in this country and elsewhere since the '73 and '79 oil shocks and with the more recent OPEC cohesion in using market power. Unfortunately, starting in the '70s, this also led to a very simple minded definition of our security goal, decrease imported oil.
This is not a sensible statement if you adhere to what may be arguably the only fragment we have of energy policy in this country, and that is a reliance on markets. Those two statements are practically incompatible. More appropriate objectives for advancing security really are limiting market power by impacting the supply demand balance, and especially in creating more elasticity for oil demand. So what are some sensible technology and policy objectives to pursue if we want to address energy security in this sense? I will offer four pathways, all of which hinge upon technology development and the interplay of technology and policy.
Well, number one on anybody's list, really, is reduce oil demand. And I want to stress, not imported oil demand, oil demand. And the number one technology pathway for addressing the reduction in oil demand is what we heard this morning, particularly from John Heywood, that of higher efficiency vehicles. And certainly-- and I think John would agree since I took it from his studies-- that certainly objectives such as 80 mile per gallon, full size hybrid automobiles in say a 20, 25 year time period with at least arguably reasonable price differential is not a crazy technological dream.
But one that, with wide scale deployment, would have enormous impact. Because remember, you don't have to displace oil use to address the security issue. In fact, today, a few million barrels a day of elasticity or demand reduction would have an enormous impact on any possible use of market power by creating essentially substantially more reserve production capacity, which currently is held almost exclusively in Saudi Arabia. So oil demand, efficient vehicles is certainly number one direction.
Number two, diversify oil resources. So I'm still not going off of oil, but diversify oil resources. Now in fact, since the '70s, apparently unrecognized by policymakers, we've actually had a complete change in how the oil market functions. And part of that is by diversifying resources geographically across the world. But today, let's focus more on technology pathways for diversifying oil resources. Because earlier, that trillion barrels that I mentioned was really essentially so-called conventional reserves.
But there are unconventional reservoirs by various definitions, specifically, for example, Canada and Venezuela in our hemisphere. Of course, one is an OPEC member, one is not. Each, not together, but each have more heavy oil reserves than Saudi Arabia has reserves, each with more than a quarter trillion barrels each. Now there's a big technology play here. To produce that oil economically, to refine it-- it may have desulfurization issues, for example-- there are production issues, fracturing, completion, et cetera.
But my only point is to say that today in Western Canada, in various places, that oil is being produced today for $15 a barrel. So this is not some, again, some crazy, far out in the future unattainable goal. It is quite real. And in fact, maybe your company, Norm, but certainly major oil companies are up there, in fact, rapidly increasing this.
Now there are technologies that need to be refined for this. However, I should say, are not only those in the production and refining, but also in things like environmental mitigation. And this, in fact, may be one of the major limitations in how rapidly those resources can be opened up. But it's a very real pathway that we haven't paid too much attention to, certainly in the policy community.
OK. That's two approaches. Third approach now, develop alternatives to oil. Alternatives that, let's say, let's restrict ourselves for this purpose to producing very convenient liquid fuels that you can essentially burn in the same combustion engines you have today. A couple of examples of these technology pathways, converting natural gas to liquid fuel. Again, a very rapidly growing-- small on a global scale-- but a rapidly growing approach.
There is a huge amount of stranded gas in the world. Stranded gas means natural gas reserves that are, because of the extra complication and cost of transporting gas across long distances compared to liquids like oil, is stranded by being too far from demand centers. Once again, the bad news is a very large, more than a third of the world's gas reserves are also in the Middle East. But in this case, not nearly as developed as a market because they are far from demand centers.
But many, many places in the world have huge amounts of gas, which you can get today at say $0.50 and sometimes for free compared to say the $5 we're paying today in the United States. Now liquefying the gas and transporting it directly as gas, of course, is growing rapidly. Although certainly in this country opposition to such plants is quite intense. But also, as I say, this gas to liquid approach is going well.
And advances in chemistry and engineering already have such liquid fuels produced at let's say competitive prices with $25, maybe $30 a barrel of oil. So not out of the ballpark, again, of where we are today, and costs rapidly decreasing. And these fuels, by the way, also often have great environmental attractions. For example, diesel fuel produced from natural gas earns a price premium because it offers lower sulfur and lower particulate emissions in burning.
Another technology pathway at the same type is biofuels as the source. Now, of course, ethanol is the most prevalent. I want to stress that I do not mean ethanol derived from burning corn as we subsidize heavily today. Burning food is probably a poor way to move your 3,000 pounds of steel to the corner store to get some food.
But for example, research on things like enzyme development to break down cellulose, essentially a waste product, are very, very promising, and once again, not that far away. Rational predictions would say that in 10 to 15 years, we can be talking $1 to $1 and a quarter for unsubsidized, cellulose-based ethanol. But technology, especially in this business with large infrastructures, often has to be aligned with policy.
One interesting suggestion made by the Energy Futures Coalition along this regard, if one wants to stimulate these pathways which enhance energy security and also have environmental benefits, for example, would be-- as a thought calculation-- let's say take only $10 billion of our agricultural subsidies generally focused on growing nothing or growing things that third world farmers might grow better, cheaper at least.
Put those into energy crops. That subsidy into energy crops at a $0.50 per gallon subsidy could displace 15% of our gasoline use, a huge impact. Now again, I'm not saying that's this policy to follow. But I'm just saying we have a lot of technologies and policy tools that are out there right now that we could use if we had a kind of coherent energy security policy.
The fourth direction-- again after efficiency, new oil sources, alternatives to oil-- the fourth direction is a more profound change of the transportation paradigm. We'll hear several here. We'll hear Dean's version of that for at least some particular uses. We would have heard Dean Mitchell's statement about city planning as a way to alter it. But again, let me focus on the technology pathway certainly most discussed in this context. And that's hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles, which would obviously be a major shift.
Of those four pathways, this is by far the most problematic and longest term. First, as we've already discussed, it simply is not the ideal transportation fuel. And John Heywood, again, referred to that as well this morning. We know the cost problems with fuel cells, with producing hydrogen, with storage, and with a whole new infrastructure potentially being required. But let's just think more simply of the scale of what it would mean to introduce hydrogen fuel cells in cars at a scale that really matters.
Because again, it isn't a primary fuel. We've got to get it from someplace. Well, the easiest place to get it, the easiest and cheapest, is from natural gas. In fact, there's a lot of hydrogen produced. And some of you may not know that, in fact, there are even large hydrogen pipelines down in the Houston area, for example, to serve refineries who use it to lighten increasingly heavy, or increasingly sour crude oil.
Natural gas, obviously, mainly methane, CH4. A lot of hydrogen in there so it's good source. However, just to displace the increment in global oil use projected to 2025, globally, just the increment, would require 75 trillion cubic feet per year of natural gas on an energy equivalency basis. The scale of that is, that is approximately all the natural gas, slightly less than all the natural gas used today in the world. You can imagine a few problems ramping up to that scale of use.
So maybe the answer is to go to a less valuable hydrogen source like water, electrolysis, for example. Well, standard so-called cold electrolysis needs about 50 kilowatt hours of electricity to produce a kilogram of hydrogen, which in turn has the energy equivalent of roughly a gallon of gasoline. That translates, again, once again, to displace the increment in oil use to 2025, that requires about 30 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity per year, slightly more than twice as much as the world uses today.
Now, technology can help reduce these staggering numbers. For example, efficiency of end use may get us a factor of 2. Fuel cells are highly efficient. Although one should remember that advanced hybrids, the competition, is also very efficient. Or one of the competitions. And secondly, and in my view a central, is to find much more efficient processes for production. In fact, one of the questioners this morning alluded to nuclear power plants as a possible source of high temperature heat for thermal production of hydrogen. Unproved, certainly today, extremely uneconomical.
But there are a number of ideas out there being pursued to lower this cost of getting hydrogen. But this is a long way off. And I think we cannot afford to have a focus on this direction impede our frankly more serious approaches to addressing the transportation questions with regard to security and environment, to which I will come. Make it very clear, this is not a statement that we should not work on this aggressively. We should. It could be a very important approach in the long term.
And the fact that it costs a lot may deter us. Again, remember the story on electricity. We're very happy to pay three times more per unit of energy for electricity in our houses because we don't want to burn Coleman lamps for light, for example. But we should understand what we're getting into with the energy carrier of paying a premium for convenience, and especially in this case for hydrogen, for clean end use.
So the punch line really here is that a coherent energy security policy built around especially the first three objectives in the next couple of decades really could do much to resolve security supply together with easily imaginable technology development-- we aren't asking for a miracle-- and evolutionary energy infrastructure development for efficiency, new reserves, and alternatives to oil. And this does not require behavioral change of any major consequence.
Now clearly these pathways also lead to environmental benefits. For example, efficiency in the use of let's say gasoline and advanced hybrid cuts down emissions dramatically. And the fuels that go into those vehicles themselves have to be much cleaner, much lower sulfur levels, et cetera. In fact, if you think back to what we often confuse as energy policy, the externalities of security environment in many ways led to the policies that have had the most profound effect on the evolution of transportation, as opposed to any specific energy policy.
In particular, I refer to the CAFE standards we heard about this morning, which were a result of security concerns following the '73 oil embargo. And secondly, the Clean Air Act and its amendments in 1990 have had profound impacts on fuels and the design of engines. So the good news is those security directions also give you environmental benefits, particularly for the local and regional levels-- smog, et cetera.
However, let me finish up by a short focus on climate change. And let me first give you my framework. And some of you may argue with these later on. First, we are clearly and undeniably, in my view, re-engineering the atmosphere-- 1/3 increase in CO2 concentrations, for example, since pre-industrial-- on a scale that poses risk in a 50 to 100 year scale. And I emphasize the word risk. The time scale for turning over the energy infrastructure is multi decadal, somewhat shorter for transportation, but unfortunately longer for power plants and certainly for buildings.
Three, the scale of the challenge in addressing greenhouse gas emissions, which is basically contemplating perhaps a factor of 2 to 2 and 1/2 times increased energy use globally by mid century, while holding carbon emissions at or below today's level, is an immense challenge. Fourth, prudence demands that we start now, especially with the very many no regrets technology deployments that we put forward, some of which we just discussed in terms of alternative fuels, for example.
And fifth, it doesn't matter where the carbon-- I say carbon, carbon dioxide-- comes from. Doesn't matter where it comes from geographically. Doesn't matter whether it comes from a mobile or a fixed source. Because there are very, very long, hundreds of years residents times, in the atmosphere, and essentially global mixing. So wherever the source comes from has the same impact.
And this in my view suggests that market forces should and will be the principle approach to meeting emissions reduction requirements, no matter what those requirements turn out to be. That is, market in the sense of finding the lowest costway of reducing carbon with trading, et cetera. This has a very important implication for transportation. It is simply easier to mitigate emissions, both technically and politically, for stationary sources.
Politically, I assume you could take a poll here, but let me make a guess. Most of you have one vote in upcoming elections. Some may have more, but I'm from Chicago. I know, I'm from Chicago. You have approximately one car, maybe more. Norm has five but they aren't all being driven so it doesn't count. And you probably don't have a coal plant. You are a constituency that will favor controlling carbon at stationary sources rather than mobile sources.
Now hydrogen derived from renewable sources or nuclear power or renewable biofuels-- specifically directly going into, let's say, a combustion engine-- would of course avoid carbon from transportation. Use a lot of oil, however, as we already alluded to. In fact, we use oil globally at the rate, the average rate, of more than 5 trillion watts. If we used half of the cultivatable land in the world to produce biofuels, we might be able to get, using that same metric, a couple trillion watts, maybe.
So biofuels could be very important, but they're not, quote, the answer to the problem certainly in and of themselves. And hydrogen, we've seen all the problems that it has in terms of the costs, et cetera. And again, remember it's a carrier. And therefore, if we get the hydrogen from natural gas, we still have the carbon problem. In fact, John Heywood has shown that a hybrid would perform as well lifecycle as a hydrogen vehicle in terms of carbon emissions if you don't capture the carbon and put it away.
So, what's the alternative? I'm not suggesting this is the way it will go. But I just want to emphasize the interplay between technology, markets, and policy. Your gallon of gasoline, the one that you and I buy for $2, it's got about 2 and 1/2 kilograms of carbon in it, virtually all of it essentially released as CO2 after combustion. If serious carbon constraints are imposed, there is an expectation that, one way or another, a price will be assigned to emitting carbon through a market mechanism at somewhere between $50 and $100 per ton of carbon.
Today, we cannot capture carbon following combustion at that price. With today's technology, it's more like $200. But it's got to come down for this to work. Well, even $100 a ton of carbon is therefore $0.25 per gallon of gasoline. That may be higher than John's $0.05 tax. But $0.25 is not enormous. And that brings us back therefore to another policy technology pathway.
If it is simpler to avoid the carbon in other sources, especially stationary sources, that may be part of the trading market where, in effect, the mobile source pays $0.25 a gallon for gasoline and it goes to support a renewable or some other kind of project that is avoiding carbon emissions. Again, I don't know which pathway will be followed. But I do want to emphasize, again, a strong interplay of technology, markets, and policy.
So in summing up, in my axioms with regard to climate change, I noted the time scale. We need to get going because we have a 50 or 100 year horizon for possibly dramatic action in the energy sector. And it takes that long to turn over many parts of the energy infrastructure.
There's a story told of a French General, Lyautey, who upon returning-- this was over 100 years ago-- upon returning to France after a long campaign asked his gardener to plant a particular type of tree at his chateau. The gardener protested that such a tree takes 100 years to mature. Allegedly, at least, Lyautey's response was then you better plant it that afternoon because there was no time to waste. And I think that's very much the spirit with which we have to address this climate change problem.
So with that, I have the pleasure, I think, of turning over the podium to Dean Kamen. Norm said a few things about Dean. I'll just add a couple more. Dean is a character, as many of you know. And with his wonderful US FIRST enterprise with these kids, a little anecdote was Dean brought the two finalist teams-- I don't know, I forget when, '96 maybe, '95, '96-- to the White House for Al Gore to play with. And Al showed a little bit too much skill at manipulating these things for someone who certainly was focused on broad issues of national policy.
But Gore did manage, at the instigation of various people-- and I think Dean was one of them-- to finally manage to manipulate, to drop one of the big beach balls on my head as a demonstration of how these wonderful tools the kids made worked. Dean also can tell you great stories about his windmills. He's very environmentally committed, quite clearly. But let me not say anymore and just have Dean come up and talk about a different way of changing the paradigm.
KAMEN: All I learned today so far is the best fuel is the fuel you don't need. I heard at lunch from Chuck Vest how seriously you all consider your ranking in the world compared to other academic institutions. So I thought at least I'll get some favor here by giving you some good news and some great news. The good news is I'm not alumni. And the great news is I didn't graduate from Harvard, Princeton, or Yale either.
I was anticipating it would be a panel format so you're particularly lucky. I don't have a lot of slides or a presentation. But I did, after listening to this morning, by some luck, have a 500 meg little device in my pocket which had some fun pictures on it that I thought I'd start with and then maybe try to tell you a little bit about this. Are we going to be able to do that, boss? In a moment.
I would have to start out by telling you that everything I listened to today made me realize that half of the great data I quote comes from people like Joe Coughlin and Professor Heywood. So I can't possibly, with any credibility, talk in detail about the various aspects either of the technology or the infrastructure of transportation. So I'll just give you a very contracted history with respect to how I think this thing might, let's say, fit into what might be the future.
Now that he's got this picture up, again, I'll start. You probably think I'd show this picture-- says stop here, I'm in trouble-- because we're in the Oval Office with the President. That's not why. It's really here for a couple of reasons. One, everywhere I go, I have to tell people about FIRST and get more support for it. And so, yes, we were getting the National Medal of Technology. Yes, it's the Oval Office. And yes, being in an iBOT was nearly eye level with this guy.
But we're discussing FIRST and he's making his commitment to bring the winners of our competition to be recognized in the White House, which he in fact did do. Hello? Very quickly, this picture is here, I guess, in part because we were proud that our technology in iBOT help the disabled get around. It was recognized and we won the National Medal of Technology with it.
But my point in showing this picture, really, is much more important than that. It's not the iBOT in the Oval Office. It's the fact that the President and I are discussing, and he is committing to bring the winners of our first competition-- our annual event, that's what this is all about-- to be recognized in the White House, which he in fact did do. So that made it a successful trip. The other reason I like to show this picture is because I'm trying to debunk the common myth that when the occasion demands it, I can in fact be a snappy dresser. And so here I am.
The other reason I wanted to show this slide is because we're here to talk about issues of technology and transportation in particular. But I just think it's in general new technologies. Typically, these days more than ever, technology is moving much faster than the ability of people and cultures to absorb it. And as a proof of that, I figured I'd first show the expected and intended consequence of our ability to understand human balance.
And bring this now, after a couple of decades of effort, this medically approved Class 3 device to people that can't walk. And then to point out that sometimes, and I think inevitably, technology brings you unexpected results. So here's the expected and intended consequence, a President of the United States recognizing the importance of balancing technology-- by the way, there is clearly balance in the Oval Office.
And here is the unintended but inevitable consequence of balancing, or almost balancing, technology. This is the current President of the United States. This is a Segway. They work a lot better when you turn them on. You've got to plan and you've got to know what you're getting into in this world. Anyway, louder. Sorry.
The next one is to show that I also can appreciate the broad range of technology you need for transportation. And if you happen to get your 10,000 pound Humvee stuck in the snow and you happen to have an iBOT-- I was a little concerned here because I checked and this cable's only good to 30,000 pounds of pull-- but that was a happy experiment.
This is a slide that was done by Leon Creer. Most of you may know he's a pretty renowned architect. And without any prompting by us or anybody at Segway, I was asked to go down to Washington where thousands of architects, city urban planning types were getting together. And he put this slide-- giving us great recognition for it-- but he put this slide up. This is a satellite view of Washington DC. This was the amount of Washington you could cover in a five minute walk.
And this is the amount, 10 times by area the amount you could cover, in a five minute Segway trip. And he went on to talk about the 21st century needs to rethink how we architect cities, given the right tools. So it's in that spirit of that I'd like to make a couple of quick observations, as somebody who's always trying to convince the world that maybe we should relook at the fundamental issues.
I should use one to Norm Augustine's laws in which I think he said the early bird catches the worm. The early worm gets eaten. I've spent most of my life as the worm. But it's OK. So in a very contracted piece of history, let me tell you the history of the world of transportation as I see it as a person who spent 30 years building medical equipment, and only as a result of that iBOT sort of segued into this.
So it got really cold. The dinosaurs died. And then people came. And people stand up and walk on two feet. That takes care of about the first 100 million years or so. Then, we invented the most important technology of all time for humanity, the plow. And we went from hunter gatherers to organized societies. And even in the very first organized societies, you'd be happy to know, there was congestion.
In ancient Greece, when the known population was 1.5 million people, the law in ancient Greece said you could not bring your horse, your ox and cart inside the city walls from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset. They were already worried about congestion where people want to live in city environments, and already had figured out it's not a place for big equipment to be miscellaneously mingling with a pedestrian environment. That was an interesting lesson.
Few thousand years went by and every few hundred years some major piece of transportation technology changed the world. Figured out how to build boats, found the compass, that's why we're all in North America. That changed the world. We built locomotives. , Interesting, we're talking about energy. And when we built the first engines to move things, everybody thinks we start small and get big.
That's not true. We built locomotives to run trains. And at least 50 years before we were moving cars around, we had these multi hundred ton machines. They turned the continent into a country because we could move things around very efficiently. And that changed the way we perceive life. All the while, for a few thousand years, cities were growing up.
Now we get to the year 1903. Henry Ford decides wouldn't it be great if we had the next big change in transportation. And he was right. But he was dealing with the situation that you could move great big heavy stuff easily in trains. You could get stuff across an ocean in boats. Individuals were very happy, believe it or not, walking around cities. The problem was that that intermediate space, the small towns to the small towns, the small towns to the railroad stations.
With their crops or with their manufactured goods, or getting around farms, they wanted to change the horse and buggy to the horseless buggy. The horse and carriage was too slow, didn't carry enough, and it was twice as long as just the carriage alone. So if you could take a technology to make the thing half as big and twice as fast, you win.
A snapshot in time of the year 1903, about 154 million people on the planet lived in cities. It was 9% of the human population. 91% of the world lived in a rural, agrarian environment. The 9% that lived in all the cities were happy walking around. They didn't have a problem. The car was intended for that other 91% to solve a big problem and improve the way we all live and work. And it worked.
It worked so well that by the 1950s, we're building the highway systems across this country and across the world. And it's the eighth wonder of the world. They're the largest public works projects ever done. And we can take them for granted if you want, but they're extraordinary. And you heard all sorts of prognostication on the future of the car. And you could be disappointed that we're only getting them better at 1% per year. But that's not because they're bad. That's because they're so damn good.
It's about the cheapest piece of technology you buy, pound for pound. And you put it out on the highway, and at 65 miles an hour, you can go in almost complete safety between cities, take your whole family with you, stay warm all winter, stay cool all summer. Everybody loves them. It's not surprising. It's the largest industry on the planet. You just heard the list of all the companies that support it. It's a problem that, in fact, existed and was solved. And for 100 years it was great.
Now some new data. 100 years goes by and for the first time in human history, including the Greeks, 50% of the human population-- for the first time in history, this decade-- more people live in cities or megacities than any other environment, 3.2 billion people. And it's the only part of the global human population that's increasing is cities and megacities. In Asia alone, if there were no further births, the expectation is in the next 20 years, 800 million people will move into cities or megacities.
800 million, 20 years, just Asia. You can divide that out. If the average city had 10 million people, Manhattan. 10 million people to get to 800 million, you need 80 cities. 80 cities in 20 years, that's one every six weeks. So let's build a city of the size and density of Manhattan every six weeks for the next 20 years that will only deal with the population migration of just the people already alive just in Asia.
Then you heard that everybody wants to used cars. You heard all sorts of data. And I can't help it but getting 1% more fuel economy each year, as tough as that would be and as remarkable as it will be to get to-- 80 gallons, 80 miles per gallon-- it still seems to me when you're talking about population swings and 10 billion people on the planet in 30 years and all of them expecting to join the, quote, middle class, all of them trying to get at least out of abject poverty, the idea that we're going to do it with these 1% improvements year by year is like swatting at the flies while we're getting trampled by the elephants.
So, what's the good news? The good news to me was after we spent a couple of decades trying to figure out how to understand human balance for the sole purpose-- I wish I could say that this was some great vision-- for the sole purpose of helping the disabled community who couldn't walk at all-- we made an iBOT. We made that thing that helps people get up and be at eye level and walk up and down stairs and have dignity.
But the technical challenge of understanding human balance, understanding that when you kind of want to walk forward you just think about taking a step and you go, or you want to back up you kind of think about backing up, understanding human balance and implementing it in a simple