New autoMobility II – Cooperative Road Traffic and Intelligent Traffic Control for the Mobility of the Future
Background and aims
The increasing automation, digitalisation and connectivity of vehicles and road traffic is fundamentally transforming our mobility system. To help policymakers address this trend and its many challenges and opportunities, it is necessary to carry out a scientifically robust analysis of the status quo, future developments and challenges, and to identify action areas and recommendations based on the results of this analysis. The interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral “New autoMobility” project group was established to meet this need. The project is led by the German Aerospace Center and coordinated by acatech.
In the project’s first phase (05/2015 – 12/2016), a target scenario and roadmap were developed for automated road transport and traffic in 2030. These were published in an acatech POSITION PAPER which focused on different automation functions, their potential applications and their impact on future road traffic. Concrete illustrations were provided in the form of international comparisons and current practical examples from Germany.
Building on the results of the first phase (“New autoMobility – The Future of Automated Road Transport and Traffic”), the project’s second phase was launched on 15 January 2018 under the title “New autoMobility II – Cooperative Road Traffic and Intelligent Traffic Control for the Mobility of the Future”.
The ongoing second phase focuses on the twin aspects of cooperative road traffic and intelligent traffic control. It widens the perspective from the vehicle technology itself to the interactions between new mobility technologies, trends and services in a digitally connected mobility system, offering a holistic, systemic and inclusive vision of the future of mobility. The project group hopes that this will contribute to the development of a strategy for accelerating the transformation of the entire mobility sector into a low-emission, automated and digitally connected mobility system.
Rather than being developed in isolation, it is critical to ensure that future vehicle designs integrate the major technological mobility trends of connectivity, electrification, automation and carsharing. This will reduce the strain throughout the entire integrated transport system, making it safer, environmentally-friendlier and better aligned with users’ needs.
Thomas Weber, acatech Vice-President
What are the potential benefits of connectivity and digitalisation for our future mobility?
Connected, digitalised mobility has the potential to deliver more comfortable, safer and environmentally-friendlier transport.
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. This future transport system will also be able to satisfy people’s specific mobility needs far more successfully and efficiently, helping them to actively overcome the challenges of both urbanisation and demographic change in rural areas. It will reduce the strain on our cities and allow older people living in the countryside to remain mobile.
Vehicle automation and connectivity can make a major contribution to better road safety. An innovative, intelligent traffic control system can improve traffic efficiency without jeopardising road safety or diminishing the benefits of new automated and connected vehicles. Such systems are thus key to the cooperative road traffic of the future, where vehicles and infrastructure will communicate and coordinate with each other, providing safer, environmentally-friendlier and more comfortable transport for everyone.
Accordingly, the second phase of the project is now developing future scenarios for intelligent traffic control, cooperative road traffic, infrastructure and interoperability that complement the target scenario for the automated road transport and traffic of the future that was formulated during the first phase.
Future mobility scenarios
The target scenario and the themes addressed in detail by the New autoMobility II project are illustrated through future scenarios which describe how different connected mobility applications could work together in the future.
One of these future scenarios addresses 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.
Another future scenario focuses on quality of life in our cities. It illustrates how the use of carsharing fleets, automated parking and consolidated parcel delivery services can reduce traffic, making space for more attractive land uses. In an automated mobility pilot area, vehicles are parked in underground car parks. The space that this saves above ground can now be used for parks, promenades and children’s play areas. Local residents and people visiting the neighbourhood make use of an automated carsharing fleet.
In addition, all packages sent to the neighbourhood are consolidated at logistics hubs, allowing last mile delivery of the collected packages to be carried out by a single provider. The fact that there are no longer several different delivery vehicles each carrying small numbers of packages reduces the overall volume of traffic in the area.
The research requirements needed to realise these future scenarios are outlined in detail in an acatech STUDY.
In October 2018, the project group published a progress report that focuses on the phase II themes of cooperation between road users with different levels of automation (e.g. automated communication between vehicles and cyclists) and intelligent mobility control (e.g. centralised and decentralised solutions for traffic flow optimisation). The report also addresses the associated infrastructure and systems interoperability requirements. As well as the technical aspects, it discusses possible forms of public participation, since this is key to both mobility planning and the roll-out of new technologies.
The progress report goes on to identify the following areas where action is required to enable the mobility of the future:
- Create spaces where the public can engage in a dialogue and experience innovations
- 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. Having defined the areas requiring action, the working group will now focus on addressing them in detail. Its findings will be published as an acatech STUDY in summer 2019.
Organisation and working methods
The project group comprises over 50 members drawn from more than 30 organisations in industry, academia and civil society. The group addresses the transport and traffic of the future from a strategic perspective, formulating recommendations that are published in joint reports. The entire project group meets several times a year at regular intervals.
Thematic workshops provide important input for the reports and ensure that the project work is carried out in an agile manner. As well as the project group members, external experts are also invited to attend the workshops, particularly stakeholders from local government and start-ups. The project’s editorial team consolidates the workshop findings and prepares the reports.
The project leader is Prof. Dr. Karsten Lemmer, Director of the Institute of Transportation Systems at our project partner the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The DLR also contributes its specific scientific expertise in this field.