More than Plane

Transportation goes for a ride

Perspective by:
Research Squad
Moxi Ventures

We get around

We’ve started on a journey. The destination: a paradigm shift in how we think about transportation. From planes to trains to automobiles, new startups are reshaping approaches to local and intercity travel.

Roads are aiming high by going underground. Elon Musk’s The Boring Co. plans to have a 17-mile stretch of highway running through a tunnel under Los Angeles in a year or two. By enabling vehicles to speed through a network of tunnels at up to 125 mph, the company hopes to “make roads 3D” and solve the city’s serious traffic problems.[1]

Aerospace is thinking big when it comes to 3D too. Boeing has teamed up with Norsk Titanium to use additive manufacturing – 3D printing – in the construction of its 786 Dreamliner. Initially printing four titanium parts, the company thinks it could eventually use the technology for as many as 1,000 parts in each aircraft – cutting production costs for each Dreamliner by a third.[2]

Cities are understanding they might have their own remedies for polluted streets and inactive populations. All around the world, they’re ‘Copenhagenizing’ by rethinking the way they build local infrastructure to emphasize forms of mobility that aren’t simply wedded to the car. So that means infrastructure strategies that reintroduce walking and biking into the fabric of city architectures. The way urban environments like Seoul and Boulder are turning disused rail corridors into pedestrian and cycle pathways are providing a template for cities that want to make their citizens healthier.[3]

All this is made possible by technological advances. So, whether it’s Deutsche Bahn’s ‘innovation trains’,[4] Amazon’s drone deliveries,[5] or Uber’s driverless trucks,[6] digital is proving it’s the ticket to ride on the journey to the transportation networks of the future.


Autonomous and modal a priority

Autonomous vehicles are driving the transport revolution. It’s thought that an extraordinary 95 percent of US car miles will be traveled in shared electric self-driving vehicles by 2030. Companies providing autonomous transportation-as-a-service (TaaS) will come to own as many as three in every five vehicles on US roads over the ten years from 2020. And the number of traditional passenger vehicles will plummet by more than 80 percent over the same period.[7]

In healthcare, transportation advances are accelerating what we offer patients and healthcare customers. Cigna-HealthSpring, for example, is partnering with ride-sharing service Lyft to help customers on select Medicare Advantage plans get to and from their non-emergency medical or pharmacy consultations. As many as 92 percent of members who used the service have made it their preferred means of transportation.[8]

Circulation is a Boston startup with its own plans for taking patient transport into the fast lane. With a new platform for coordinating non-emergency ride scheduling and billing, and working with Uber and others, they’re able to match ride needs with ride fulfilment. They’re curing the poor reliability, high costs, and low accountability that plague existing broker systems.[9]

What’s more, by putting the platform pedal to the metal, businesses are disrupting existing transportation models right across the world. Companies like Tesla are bypassing transport dealerships.[10] Shipping companies are joining forces with container leasing companies to reduce overheads.[11] And startups like Dispatch Health are offering on-demand urgent care, right in the comfort of your home or office.[12]


Non-emergent becomes the emergent opportunity

Are you ready for hyper-speed? In local, national, and international travel, superfast transport velocities will soon become the norm. For example, Arrivo, a business founded by SpaceX engineers, has proved a hyperloop-like pod can reach speeds of 192 mph on a Nevada racetrack. The company has announced a partnership with Colorado’s Department of Transportation to build a high-speed magnetized track network for localized routes around the city of Denver.[13]

International travel is set to go interplanetary. SpaceX is envisioning a future of intercity travel where passengers simply jump on a rocket – the same technology the company uses for space transportation – before blasting into orbit and back to their destination anywhere around the globe. It would mean a genuine travel revolution – any city in any country would be just an hour’s journey away.[14]

The need for speed will change how healthcare is delivered at the local and national level too. Matternet have been teaming up with Swiss healthcare providers to implement a revolutionary drone delivery network for the country’s hospitals. By installing a drone loading dock and landing pad in each institution, the partnership can bypass dense urban environments and send and receive medical samples and supplies at unprecedented speed.[15]

These kinds of drone networks will transform healthcare delivery in rural or hard-to-reach places. For example, startup Flirtey has shown how it can use drones to make deliveries to a remote Virginia health clinic.[16] It means rural citizens no longer need go without while they wait for medical supplies to be transported. Drones can even change the game for distribution within individual medical facilities. For instance, Wilstair is using drone technology to transfer supplies between the floors of a single hospital.[17]

So in healthcare, just like every other aspect of our lives, transport is about to go high-tech and high-speed.

[1] CNBC; “Elon Musk says his traffic-busting tunnel from LAX should be 17 miles long ‘in a year or so’;” posted October 31, 2017

[2] Computerworld; “Boeing turns to 3D-printed parts to save millions on its 787 Dreamliner;” posted April 11, 2017 at 

[3] MIT Sloan Management Review; “Going Mobile: The Personalized, On-Demand Future of Urban Transportation;” posted October 5, 2017

[4] Smartrail World; “Deutsche Bahn and Hyperloop TT to build 'Innovation Train' by 2018;” posted August 1, 2016

[5] TechCrunch; “Amazon starts Prime Air drone delivery trial in the UK — but only with two beta users;” posted December 14, 2016

[6] Fortune; “Here’s How Uber Is Plotting Its Entry Into Long-Haul Trucking;” posted September 28, 2016

[7] Business Wire; “New Report: Due to Major Transportation Disruption, 95% of U.S. Car Miles Will Be Traveled in Self-Driving, Electric, Shared Vehicles by 2030;” posted May 4, 2017

[8] Healthcare Dive; “Cigna-HealthSpring, Lyft tout Medicare Advantage ride numbers;” posted December 1, 2017

[9] State Scoop; “How a Boston-based startup is changing non-emergency medical transportation;” posted December 18, 2017

[10] Slate; “Tesla’s Real Innovation Isn’t the Electric Car;” posted April 11, 2016

[11] Moros; Tobias; “The Value of Partnerships in the Container Shipping Industry;”


[13] The Verge; “This hyperloop company is promising 200 mph travel without the vacuum tubes;” posted November 14, 2017

[14] PhysOrg; “Book the next rocket to New York? What it'll take to realize Elon Musk's bizarre travel plan;” posted October 6, 2017

[15] Mashable; “Medical delivery drones are coming to Switzerland;” posted September 20, 2017

[16] The Wall Street Journal; “Drone Delivers Medicine to Rural Virginia Clinic;” posted July 17, 2015