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Design & Technology November 11, 2019

The future of mobility could change society

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Society is constantly moving. Both people and products are continually going from point A to point B via different means of transportation. In fact, mobility is a constantly evolving ecosystem and the backbone of any city. Sabrina Soussan, CEO of Siemens Mobility, showcases during Web Summit 2019 how mobility and technology, two intertwined concepts, will impact how we travel as a society and change urban landscapes.

What is mobility?

Mobility is our ability to move around freely and easily. From daily commuting to holiday travels but also the transport of goods, mobility connects people, products and places on a global scale. Technology has been the driving force behind the evolution of transportation. From the invention of cars to the hyperloop, technology has allowed humans to continuously push the boundaries of transportation and change how we move as a society. 

The future of mobility

As technology continues to evolve so do our modes of transportation. Already new business models are emerging to cater to the new generations. Sabrina explains seven transportation trends which she thinks will impact our society sooner rather than later.

1. Mobility will continue to be highly disruptive – In 1913 New York City was filled with horse-drawn carriages. Fifteen years later, automobiles took over and with that came wider paved streets which could accommodate both an increase in traffic and parking spots. The car allowed for people who were farther away to come into the city thus driving both commerce and jobs. It was also the rise of the automobile that allowed people to travel for leisurely reasons. So as new technologies continue to appear, this will impact how cities are built and how connected people, places and goods are.

2. We will continue to rely on automotive – But that does not mean that the cars of tomorrow will be the same as the cars of today. In the future, not only will many more cars be electric, they will also be autonomous. This process is already happening with the development of cruise control allowing us to remove our feet from the pedals. In addition to lane and/or driver assistance making it possible for us to remove our hands from the wheel in specific situations. What’s left? Being able to avert our gaze from the road. Additionally, the cars of the future will be connected to objects and humans alike. The newest automobiles will be able to exchange a variety of information/data with the outside world such as weather, traffic conditions, nearby service stations via sensors. By using Wi-Fi, your car could communicate with buildings and roads about what’s ahead. Lastly, there will be a rise in subscription car services and car-sharing platforms as more people become environmentally concerned and public transportation continues to expand its reach.

3. Intelligent infrastructure will enable driverless cars – Intelligent infrastructure will be able to see what smart cars can’t, such as a child playing in a truck’s blind spot for example. But it can also do much more than that. It could communicate which parking spots are free in a city and direct people towards them. Or it could switch traffic lights to green/red if an ambulance is coming allowing them to pass. This means our roads could become smarter and allow us to drive more safely and efficiently.

4. Public transport will remain the backbone of mobility – Public transport makes it possible to move hundreds of thousands of people every day from one point to another in an efficient fashion. Now there’s a lot of potential for development in this field. One example of this is intelligent rail infrastructure which can increase capacity by 30% on existing routes. Similarly, digitalisation could enable predictive maintenance which means 100% availability and everything running smoothly all the time. For example, there is a train which runs between Madrid and Barcelona which has been over 15 minutes late only twice in two years thanks to predictive maintenance. So this is not a dream, this is already a reality. 

5. Public transport must reinvent itself in terms of passenger experience – Let’s be honest, flying in economy class is still not the most pleasant experience. In the future, exceptional passenger experiences will be requisites as the world continues to be more connected. The industry will embrace a passenger-first approach making travelling a more enjoyable activity. From easier check-in processes at airports to new seat designs which adjust to the width and shape of individual passengers, the entire customer journey will be redesigned to be more comfortable and efficient.

6. Seamless transportation and coordination – When commuting to work, how many apps do you use? Often times we use two or three, one to check our schedule, maybe another to buy a ticket and a third if you choose to, say, rent an e-bike to finish your journey. The future of mobility entails uniting all different types of public transports together in one application which means people could plan their journey and buy tickets all within one app. For some, this is already a reality. Denmark has created an app called DOT Ticket App making it possible for the general public to buy one ticket for all modes of public transport. Commuters can also choose between different travel modes: cheapest, fastest or most sustainable. Lastly, people can even see e-bike and bike-sharing options. 

7. We need to take a holistic view of mobility – Cities need to make public transit systems part of urban planning. By thinking holistically about the urban landscape and how we move through it this can ensure that the most efficient system is in place. 

Enjoy the ride

If you were to take a bird’s eye view of a city, you would observe a world in constant motion. From trains to taxis and trucks delivering goods. Mobility is the lifeblood of our cities and essential to our survival. The future of mobility will be more connected, shared, automated and efficient. Governments and industries will have to work together to elevate the consumer travel experience and ensure the most efficient and safest system is in place. By working together, we can ensure that future rides will be enjoyable. 

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