The Future of transportation and mobility

Forum on future cities
21 November 2014
MIT MEDIA LAB (E14) - 6th Floor

hosted by the MIT SENSEable City Lab


Self-driving vehicles. Drivers on demand. Data-driven infrastructure. Vehicles that respond to passengers and to the environment… A sea change is happening in transportation, and mobility of the (near) future will be radically different than today — greener, more comfortable and more efficient. Innovations are rolling out of laboratories, businesses and city halls on four, two, (or zero) wheels at an accelerating pace, exploring the future of urban mobility.


The spotlight is focused on transportation technology and design — the machines that move people — yet there are a host of unanswered questions as transitions are made. This year, California began issuing drivers licenses to self-driving cars, but insurance companies still can't find who is at fault when something goes wrong. Cities are debating whether ride sharing systems should be banned from their streets, while taxi companies organize strikes around the world to protest citizen-driver services like Lyft and Uber. Policy and innovation must go hand in hand for innovations to take hold.

The Road Ahead is not just about emerging technologies — it will be a forum on all dimensions of future urban mobility, bringing leading theorists, dreamers, and practitioners into conversation and debate — from designers to financiers, from policy makers to provocateurs. Conversation and presentations will seek to showcase innovations, address challenges, and holistically explore the future of moving from A to B. Sessions will focus on key topics in mobility: self-driving, sharing, policy, legality and risk and society at large among others.


Buckle Up - Welcome

Game Changers in Mobility

Alternate models of sharing and reconfigured access to mobility are fundamentally disrupting the transportation paradigm in cities. With the emergence of companies like Uber and ZipCar, citizens are rethinking private car ownership, while bike share systems are competing with traditional public and private transportation options, and start up companies are creating innovative new service models. Yet these citizen-centric developments might come into conflict with traditional incumbents such as taxis, car companies and regulators. In this session, the mobility game changers themselves will add their voices to the debate.

In discussion:
Robin Chase, Transportation Entrepreneur
Ashwini Chhabra, Head of Policy Development, Uber
Alison Cohen, President & Founder, Bicycle Transit Systems

Driverless Cities

While visions of self-driving vehicles have been the providence of science fiction, the attention of many has been captured by recent examples like the DARPA Challenge and the Google Self-Driving Car. Tesla’s Autopilot features get that company’s offerings to near self-driving to consumers in the coming months, and the State of California has begun offering licenses to “drivers” of autonomous vehicles. Unanswered, however, are the questions of regulation and safety. This session seeks to tease out the larger, societal implications of the technology to understand the truer nature of the “self-driving future”.

In discussion:
Daniela Rus, Director, MIT CSAIL
Nhai Cao, Global Product Line Manager, TomTom
Paolo Santi, Lead, MIT-Fraunhofer Ambient Mobility
Christian Zulberti, Researcher, ENEL Foundation
Lam Shann Wee, Futures Division Director, Singapore Ministry of Transportation

Data Driven Mobility

Urban spaces are creating an unprecedented amount of data, from mobile phone data about individuals to the traces created automatically from machine-to-machine interactions. This session seeks to explore how the ubiquity of “big data” and increasing prevalence of situated technology is changing how decisions are made about policy, urban planning and citizen behavior with regard to mobility.

In discussion:
Nicholas Arcolano, Senior Data Scientist, FitnessKeeper (RunKeeper)
Oded Cats, Asst. Professor, Delft University of Technology
Matthew George, CEO, Bridj
Marta Gonzalez, Asst. Professor, MIT Civil & Environmental Engineering
Katja Schechtner, Mobility Expert, Asian Development Bank

Ambient Mobility

Greatest innovation might not be systems themselves, but how they interface with each other. Ubiquitous computing and new technologies are enabling the creativity of pioneers and inventors in creating new options and experiences that enhance the process of getting from point A to B. We explore the new mobility portfolio & intermodal innovations, as well as the visions driving a new future not yet written.

In discussion:
Jennifer Dungs, Competence Center Mobility Innovation, Fraunhofer IAO
Nicole Freedman, Director of Bicycle Programs, Boston
Gil Perez, SVP of Industry Cloud, SAP
Luca Sacchi, Strategic Innovation Head, Piaggio Group
The Next Mile: The Senseable City
We invite participates to engage in conversation with the researchers of the Senseable City Lab as we present our cutting-edge research and projects.

[ Download the program as a PDF. ]



We have a slate of amazing speakers from industry, research and policy. Here are a few of the many insightful voices joining the conversation at The Road Ahead:

Nichole Freedman

Nicholas Arcolano

Chief Data Scientist at RunKeeper, makers of apps for health and fitness tracking and guidance.

Assaf Biderman

Assaf Biderman

Associate Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab. CEO at Superpedestrian.

Nhai Cao

Nhai Cao

Senior Global Product Line Manager for Advanced Driver’s Assistance Systems at TomTom.

Oded Cats


Assistant Professor, Delft University of Technology

Robin Chase


Transportation entrepreneur. Founder and former CEO of Zipcar, Buzzcar, and GoLoco. Executive Chairman of Veniam Works.

Ashwini Chhabra


Head of Policy Development and Community Engagement at Uber Technologies.  Former Deputy Commissioner for Policy & Planning at the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission.

Alison Cohen


President & Founder, Bicycle Transit Systems. Advisor for Toole Design Group. Former President of Alta Bicycle Share (DC Capital Bikeshare, Boston Hubway, NYC Citi Bike).

Jennifer Dungs


Head of the Competence Center Mobility Innovation at Fraunhofer IAO.

Nichole Freedman


Director of Bicycle Programs for the City of Boston. Two time national bicycle racing champion and former Olympian (2000).

Matthew George


CEO of Bridj, which uses a network of express shuttles that offer efficient and flexible trips that are as dynamic as the city you call home.

Marta Gonzales


Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT. Director of the Human Mobility and Networks Group (HuMNet).

Lam Wee Shann

Lam Wee Shann

Director of the Futures Division, Ministry of Transport, Government of Singapore.

Gil Perez

Gil Perez

Senior Vice President of Industry Cloud & General Manager of Connected Vehicles, SAP.

Carlo Ratti


Professor of the Practice in Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab.

Daniela Rus


Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT.

Paolo Santi

Paolo Santi

Lead, MIT-Fraunhofer Ambient Mobility Initiative. Research Scientist, MIT Senseable City Lab. Senior Researcher, Istituto di Informatica e Telematica del CNR.

Luca Sacchi

Luca Sacchi

Head of Product Planning and Strategic Innovation at Piaggio Group.

Katja Schechtner

Katja Schechtner

Urban Mobility Expert for the Asian Development Bank, and Visiting Scholar at the MIT Media Lab.

Peter Woodward

Peter Woodward

Moderator for The Road Ahead. Director of Quest Associates Ltd.

Christian Zulberti

Christian Zulberti

Researcher at the Enel Foundation, managing research projects regarding the energy production cycle, universal energy access and sustainable urban mobility.


LocationThe event is held on the 6th Floor of the MIT Media Lab (Building E14), about a minute walk from the Kendall T station. The street address is 75 Amheart Street. A map of the building's location on campus may be found here.

HotelWe have a block of rooms reserved at the Hyatt Regency for the 19 – 20st November at a discounted rate. The Hyatt Regency is adjacent to the MIT campus, set along the Charles River with views of the Boston skyline. Conference guests will be provided with complimentary wireless internet, and transportation to and from the conference venue by hotel shuttle service or with the MIT Tech Shuttle.

Hyatt Regency, Cambridge
575 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139

$145 plus tax per night. Rates available from Hyatt Reservations. 

Travel via Public Transit/MBTASubway("T"): Take the Red Line subway to the Kendall/MIT Station. (The Kendall/MIT Station is on the eastern side of campus.) Consult the MBTA for additional information.

Bus: There is ample bus service to the MIT Campus including the 1 and CT1 buses stopping at the MIT main entrance on Massachusetts Avenue; the CT2 bus stopping on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar St. as well as Kendall Square T Station; and routes 64, 68 and 85 stopping at Kendall Square T Station. Please consult the MBTA for additional information.

Travel via Logan AirportBy Taxi: During non-rush hour, the taxi ride will take about 15 minutes. During rush hour, the ride could take 30 minutes or more.

By Subway("T"): Take the Silver Line bus to South Station. At South Station, change to the Red Line subway to Kendall/MIT (inbound toward Alewife.) Consult the MBTA for additional information.

By Car: Should you be taking a car to the event, consult the directions provided. Please note that there is limited parking available on the MIT campus. Public parking is available at several facilities around Kendall Square.




Amsterdam Inst. for Metropolitan Studies
Fraunhofer IAO
Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research & Technology


Carlo Ratti, Lab Director
Assaf Biderman, Lab Assoc. Director
Erin Baumgartner, Assistant Director
Anthony Vanky, Lead Coordinator
Jessica Ngo, Logistics
Alexandria Hartman, Logistics
Christopher Green, Graphic Strategy

Go to top