Insights December 21st, 2021

Chief Futurist at Nikolas Badminton talks with Jeff Macarthur on Global News 640 about Jetpacks, flying cars, taxi drones and whether transport’s future is in the skies?

Jeff Macarthur: There was a report earlier this week that congestion in Toronto is back to pre pandemic levels. And I’m sure this is not news to you if you’re listening to us currently right now on the Gartner or the DVP. As a matter of fact, with 80% of downtown office employees continuing to work from home. I mean, this is obviously a problem if we are back to congestion levels pre pandemic, and 80% of us still are not working downtown. So obviously, the question is, what is the future of transportation? Let’s welcome our futurist Nikolas badminton. He joins us now with more than this here on Global News Radio. Nikolas, nice to talk to you. How have you been?

Nikolas Badminton: Yeah, I’ve been great. Thanks. It’s good to be here.

Jeff Macarthur: All right, we keep talking about the future of work. But what about the future of transportation? And I think, Nikolas, a lot of people point to EVs as examples. But those that are thinking a little more outside the box, they’re actually looking up to the sky as the future transportation.

Nikolas Badminton: You know, investors need something new to put their money towards these futures in the sky above our cities as transportation methods are certainly alluring to those people. So yeah, I mean, people are talking about everything from like jetpacks to autonomous electric quadcopters, and the search, like, being able to transport us from from one side of the city to another, or from one, one city to another as well. And definitely, in certain areas, like rural areas or something like that, I see a huge amount of opportunity with that. I’m hugely skeptical at the motives behind, you know, putting the transportation in the air and who’s really going to be using that.

Jeff Macarthur: Alright, technically, just how achievable is this things like jetpacks or flying cars, I mean, flying cars, that’s something we’ve talked about, since the Jetsons were on the air.

Nikolas Badminton: I don’t necessarily like to use the phrase flying cars, I mean, these these are basically like quadcopters, and, you know, different modes of, of helicopter transportation, basically. But what people are trying to do is they’re trying to electrify them, they’re trying to make them cheaper. They’re trying to create ecosystems and network, so it’s more accessible by more people. And that is going to look like sort of an on demand sort of Flying Service. It’s not that easy to make happen within cities. And really, it fundamentally ignores the problems on the ground, which is city design, which causes congestion, the population growth, what people need, you know, and accessibility to good public transportation as well. So, you know, looking to the skies and looking to these amazing ideas. From a safety emergency services perspective, I think it’s a really interesting idea. From a personal transportation perspective, I think it’s still like very wealthy people having access to, you know, be able to jump in one of these quadcopters, electric autonomous quadcopter. From from downtown potentially getting to Pearson Airport quicker than, than other people or whatever. So it’s kind of interesting, there’s that sort of a tug of war between what’s really needed and that idea of our shiny, bright flying car future.

Jeff Macarthur: Mm hmm. You know, those that are looking at jetpacks and drones and such and transportation in the sky, as kind of the solution to congestion? I mean, is this similar to what went on years ago? Do you think a Nikolas with sort of, you know, property in space and trying to fit as many people as you can into square footage in the city and obviously, particularly here in Toronto, we started building up right building so many condos, condominiums, and that’s happening all over the place. Now, is this a similar thinking that’s driving this so called solution to congestion?

Nikolas Badminton: I’m not sure whether it’s the same thing, if we think about the growth and densification of cities that was born, of having access to the ability to make money, the ability to be closer to downtown cores. And those ideas have sort of been challenged in the last couple of years. For many people in white collar occupations. The thinking behind this, let’s take to the skies, let’s look at new forms of transportation really comes down to trying to create this this fantastical future that’s ahead of us rather than being something that’s usually practical. However, if the people behind this really focus on the utility behind this in terms of emergency services, policing, and all of that being responsible and ethical, and also services within rural areas, and I think we’re along the right lines. However, I think these investors are going to push for Uber style services. No, you just call up these vehicles you go to stations around Toronto and fly from one area to another is going to be a gimmick at the beginning but these kinds of things can catch fire. But again, it’s going to be people that can afford to do it rather than access for the general public

Jeff Macarthur: I feel okay, so having said all of that, what is the solution? What is the future when it comes to gridlock and congestion? Because as I mentioned off the top, Toronto congestion, they say is back to pre pandemic levels, and still 80% of downtown employees continue to work from home

Nikolas Badminton: There’s some very simple ideas behind making the situation better. I mean, how many of those vehicles have got one or two people in it when it could actually have four people in it? How many of those people could shift onto public transportation networks? And how can those public transportation networks scale up? If you look at places in Europe, like Copenhagen, you know, they embrace human powered transportation and biking and public transportation as well, you know, those kinds of places should be inspirational for us, rather than the places like Dubai and other other places that are playing with the idea of these electric autonomous flying vehicles. So it’s really interesting, it comes back to the fundamentals of city design, access to transportation, and also a cultural shift from feeling like we have to drive ourselves to work to maybe, you know, sharing those rides or taking public transportation. Yeah, I

Jeff Macarthur: We have about 30 seconds here. But when you talk about that cultural shift, how much does the pandemic play a role in that and people’s hesitation to be in small crowded areas in spaces when it comes to using public transit?

Nikolas Badminton: I’ve always said from the beginning of the pandemic that it’s all about protocol, if you’re going to ensure that people in those cars are vaccinated, and you know, maybe even people want to wear masks as well ventilated as good HEPA filters in those public transportation vehicles, then I think we’re going to be okay. I mean, protocol could have taken care of a lot of the worry that we have. But you know, that there’s this idea of freedom and not wanting to necessarily adhere to those, those guidelines. So I think it’s time for us to reevaluate where we are with the pandemic and to realize that protocol is going to going to liberate us from it in the long run.

Jeff Macarthur: All right, gotta leave it there. Nikolas. Always a fascinating conversation. Appreciate the time with us on this Friday and have yourself great weekend. Thanks, Jeff. See you later. You bet futures Nikolas badminton with us. We’ll get a break here on Global News Radio. Stay with us.

About Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas Badminton is the Chief Futurist at and a world-renowned futurist speaker, consultant, researcher, and media producer. He helps trillion-dollar companies, progressive governments and the media shift their mindset from “what is” to “WHAT IF…” The result is empowered employees, new innovative products and incredible growth that leads to more revenues and a more resilient future.

Nikolas advised Robert Downey Jr.’s team for the ‘Age of A.I.’ documentary series, starred in ‘SMART DRUGS – a Futurist’s journey into biohacking’, and features on CTV, Global News, Sirius XM regularly. His mind-expanding research and opinion can be found on BBC, VICE, The Atlantic, Fast Company, Techcrunch, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Forbes, Sputnik and Venturebeat. 

Nikolas provides the opening chapter – ‘Start with Dystopia’ in a new book – ‘The Future Starts Now: Expert Insights into the Future of Business, Technology and Society’ on Bloomsbury. His new book ‘Facing Our Futures’ is due out in 2022 on Bloomsbury and equips executives and world leaders with insights and foresight tools to imagine disruption, strengthen strategic planning, and see unforeseen risks.

Nikolas is a Fellow of The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce – The RSA. The organization has been at the forefront of significant social impact for over 260 years with notable past fellows including Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, Stephen Hawking, Nelson Mandela, and Tim Berners-Lee. 

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