What might connected mobility look like in 2030? The “New autoMobility” project presents future scenarios
Berlin, 23 October 2018
Connected, automated mobility promises to provide transport that is more comfortable, more efficient, safer and more environmentally-friendly in the not-too-distant future. A progress report published today by acatech’s “New autoMobility II” project group paints a picture of how this future might unfold. Six future mobility scenarios describe how different connected mobility applications could work together, with particular emphasis on the transition from the current mobility system.
The elements required to create a sustainable transport system already exist. Electric mobility, automation, digitalisation, connectivity and innovative mobility solutions such as carsharing are already laying the foundations for a future transport system that consumes substantially fewer resources, requires less space and fewer vehicles, and uses existing infrastructure more efficiently, reducing the strain on our growing cities. A system that is much better at meeting individual mobility needs and allows the ageing population in rural areas to remain mobile. And a system that ultimately delivers better transport for people and goods. But what does the road to this new mobility system look like? What must we do to make the most of the potential offered by these new technologies? These are the questions that are being addressed by acatech’s “New autoMobility” project group.
The interdisciplinary working group has already presented a target scenario and recommendations for automated road traffic and transport in 2030. In phase two of the project – “New autoMobility II – Cooperative Road Traffic and Intelligent Traffic Control for the Mobility of the Future” – the group’s experts are now exploring the interactions between new mobility technologies and services in a digitally connected mobility system. Together with representatives of the automotive, electrical and electronics, rail, infrastructure, software and telecoms sectors, they are working to accelerate the transition to a low-emission, automated and digitally connected mobility system.
Today, drivers on our roads are largely left to their own devices. Road signs and traffic lights provide a limited degree of coordination, while hand signals and horns help to resolve unclear situations. Slightly more coordination can sometimes be observed in manoeuvres that follow an established pattern, such as zip merging. In contrast, connected vehicles that communicate with each other can perform spontaneous, coordinated joint manoeuvres as required by the current traffic situation. An intelligent traffic control system can alter traffic light phases, road signs and individual routes to reduce journey times for everyone. This significantly improves traffic efficiency without jeopardising road safety.
In the progress report, the project group formulates its vision of a sustainable mobility system geared towards individual needs that aims to deliver enhanced quality of life in attractive living spaces. The vision is based on a holistic, systemic and inclusive approach. Six future mobility scenarios describe how different connected mobility applications could work together in the future.
One of these future scenarios (shown in the illustration at the beginning of this news item) deals with commuter traffic. At present, commuter traffic is both stressful for road users and unpleasant for local residents. Every morning, commuters spend hours stuck in traffic jams as they travel into the city, while the lanes heading out of the city are often empty. Dynamic digital road signs could create additional lanes either by reducing lane width or by allowing outbound lanes to be used for inbound traffic when the situation demands. Flexible road charging for particularly congested routes could encourage people to switch to alternative routes or public transport, while innovative mobility solutions such as ridesharing can further relieve traffic congestion. Because they can run more frequently, automated trams and metros are able to transport larger passenger numbers. Finally, flexible working hours or working from home can also help to reduce rush hour traffic and commuter stress.
The working group’s progress report describes how a holistic, inclusive and systemic approach can help to create a more attractive mobility system. As well as addressing the technical aspects, it also discusses opportunities for public engagement. Mobility is a basic human need and a key enabler of individual freedom. It is therefore essential to engage in an open discussion of the framework for connected mobility and its benefits and social impacts. Moreover, the public should be involved in shaping and testing new mobility applications.
The progress report goes on to identify the following areas where action is required to enable the mobility of the future:
- Create platforms for public dialogue and innovation
- Strengthen local authorities and ensure that they are ready for the future
- Develop digital data trust centres
- Connect different modes of transport to create an integrated transport system
- Coordinated infrastructure expansion
- Ensure safety, security and resilience
- Enable interoperability
- Invest proactively in research
- Strengthen the relevant industries in Germany and ensure that they are embedded within the wider European context
The project group hopes that these areas will be jointly discussed and developed by policymakers, academia, industry and the public. A shared vision of mobility that meets people’s needs and is fit for the future will be key to achieving the transition to a better mobility system. Having defined the areas requiring action, the working group will now focus on addressing them in detail. Its findings will be presented in summer 2019.