Letter from the Editor-in-Chief
March is the month where the Northern hemisphere celebrates spring, rebirth of earth, and new beginnings. Likewise at the end of March, autumn starts in the Southern hemisphere after enjoying a beautiful sunny summer, continuing the cycle of life. In March 2020, however, both hemispheres suffered and are still suffering from the terrible SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic, during which our lives drastically changed and the lives of others took an unexpected turn. Thousands of people have lost their lives, so if you lost someone you loved, I am sorry for your loss. The human race has suffered many pandemics before, and survived. Therefore, we will survive this together, and emerge stronger. At the forefront fighting this pandemic are medical professionals, as well as every person who made sure we all have food, power, water, and other essential needs. We should be thankful for their sacrifice and dedication.
The current situation has caused me to think about how transportation electrification can help during future pandemics. Some ideas came to my mind, and I thought I should share them with you.
First, big cities: If mass public transportation venues such as trains, busses, and metros are closed, there is a big opportunity for autonomous small passenger vehicles to thrive. This will reduce the health risks for drivers who see tens of customers each day, with whom they share a small vehicle compartment.
Second, commercial aircraft: Travel proved to be one of the fastest ways to spread the SARS-CoV-2 across the globe. With smaller electric aircraft innovations that are currently being pursued, essential travel can be limited to smaller groups of people.
Third, package deliveries: Staying at home to limit the virus spread led to a large increase in package deliveries. Cardboard was shown to carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus for more than a day, and package deliveries may also involve opening a mailbox, gate, or door. Delivery personnel are thus at an increased risk of infection, and it takes only a single mistake with the disinfecting protocol to get infected. Autonomous deliveries with delivery robots and drones have already started penetrating the package delivery business. Such technologies, when used for small volume and critical deliveries, integrated with autonomous package sanitizing, will keep delivery personnel safe at home during a pandemic.
Many other ideas came to my mind, and other areas I thought about are cruise ships and ambulances. We need to keep our imagination going to see how we can help in future pandemics.
Last but not least, we will soon be welcoming a Co-Editor-in-Chief to help with the broader topics of submissions, and to grow the eNewsletter further. If you are interested in this role, please let me know.
Stay safe and healthy.