Positioning for future mobility

The city of Los Angeles and Xerox announced a new pilot project that roles public and private transportation options into one custom mobile app for the city, Go LA…

The city of Los Angeles and Xerox announced a new pilot project that roles public and private transportation options into one custom mobile app for the city, Go LA. Users of the free app will be able first to select what kind of transportation options they’re interested in (Motorcycles? The ridesharing company du jour? Whatever’s around?), then sort the results by what’s fastest, cheapest or greenest. Xerox, which is footing the bill for the initial pilot, also hopes to roll out payment and scheduling capabilities.

GM announced the creation of product team for autonomous vehicles and technology.

A new report reveals that a driverless taxi program is already underway in Seoul, South Korea, and has been driving students in a campus for six months with absolutely no accidents.

Ford announced that it is tripling its fleet of autonomous vehicles in 2016, upping its total to 30 test vehicles on the road. It is also announcing a novel integration with Amazon: Ford’s in-car software will soon connect with connected-home devices, especially its Amazon Echo.

More collaborations have been announced. Here are some:

  • Volvo Cars and Ericsson are developing intelligent media streaming for self-driving cars.
  • Samsung is reportedly teaming up with BMW to develop the brains of the self-driving vehicle. In December 2015, Samsung announced that it set up a new team to target the car market. The company has been eyeing the fast-growing market for automotive components, software and services, estimated to be worth about $500 billion.
  • The Chinese company Baidu is reportedly ramping up efforts to develop its autonomous vehicle unit in a bid to compete with other tech giants. As part of its efforts, it is partnering with BYD, the Chinese vehicle manufacturer.
  • Ford announced a collaboration with QNX, hoping to create an industry standard for integrating smartphone apps into cars. The two companies will work together to help drivers stay connected while keeping their eyes on the road. Hmmm …doesn’t sound to safe to us. Despite the fact that Blackberry (through QNX) has been in the autonomous vehicle space for a number of years, it appears that this technology will become a greater focus of the company’s efforts.
  • And, by the way, the much-rumoured driverless partnership between Google and Ford never came to fruition.

In India, Tata plans to launch the country’s first indigenous driverless vehicle.

And with news that was to be expected, Google will reportedly be making its self-driving car unit an Alphabet Company in 2016.

The future of mobility must be sustainable

When Stuttgart asks commuters to leave their cars at home, you know something’s changing…

Given new vehicular technologies’ potential to have important environmental impacts, the US Environmental Protection Agency is pondering post-2025 regulations. The Agency is considering incorporating additional factors such as electricity sources, autonomous technologies, connectivity, car-sharing and mobility services and other emerging transportation trends into its thinking.

When Stuttgart asks commuters to leave their cars at home, you know something’s changing. In an effort to decrease pollution levels, Germany’s “car city” (headquarters of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche), residents are being encouraged to use public transport and take part in car-sharing initiatives. The current ban is voluntary, but city officials have said that there may be a fine for non-compliance in the future if air pollution is not reduced.

The future of mobility must be sustainable

The future of mobility is about software.

The future of mobility is about software. The following graphic helps to demonstrate this.

mobility and sofware

A fully driverless future is still some years away. In the meantime, sustainable transportation models need to encouraged and facilitated by governments. MaaS (Mobility as a Service) described in the last newsletter is a step in the right direction. The Institute encourages this form of mobility and recommends the electrification of transportation wherever it makes sense.

MaaS Summit

Catherine Kargas facilitated the first ever MaaS Summit that was held Helsinki, organized by the Government of Finland, on November 10th 2015. The Institute congratulates Finnish Transport and Communications Minister Berner and her government on their sustainable mobility vision and the political will to make it happen.

Several articles have been written about the prospect of fully automated vehicles increasing vehicle kilometres travelled. To ensure that driverless vehicle technology contributes to a more sustainable mobility ecosystem, it is essential for governments to get involved and set the parameters within which mobility suppliers will be able to function as seamlessly as possible. The use of existing and future transit infrastructure (metros and trains) should be optimized as these are often the most efficient modes. Regulations should ensure that cooperation occurs between various modes and become fully integrated. Common payment platforms are but one way to achieve this goal. Where possible, active mobility should be encouraged.

Transit

In the future, public transportation is likely to look very differently than it does today.

In the future, public transportation is likely to look very differently than it does today. It may contain Hyperloops and driverless shuttles.  Hyperloop is concerned, work is scheduled to begin on a $6 billion test track in California within weeks. “The test track will be limited to 160mph with passengers on board but empty carriages will be tested at speeds up to 780mph. G-force in the system would be similar to those experienced by Formula 1 drivers, and tubes would mostly be straight in order to minimise stress and strain.” There are ambitions to role out the technology globally.

Several European companies are providing driverless shuttles. EasyMile’s driverless shuttle rolled out on Singapore and California over the last few weeks.

Trend to ban cars

Oslo announced that it will ban cars from its city centre by 2019.

An increasing number of European cities, including London, Paris, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Brussels, Dublin, Oslo and Madrid, have set their sights on urban centres without vehicles. Other mobility options will be encouraged and sought. Oslo announced that it will ban cars from its city centre by 2019. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) will be key to facilitating movement for residents and others finding themselves in these cities. With MaaS, we are turning transportation into a software industry and this has tremendous ramifications for. As we move from owning cars to using mobility services to go where we need to go, most urban parking spaces will disappear. This is only a small example of the impact of this change in mobility business models.

The European Mobility as a Service (MaaS) Alliance was launched a couple of weeks ago and we are proud to say that the Transportation Evolution Institute is a member of the Alliance.
Photo : Grisha Bruev / Shutterstock.com

Government planning required

Those who earn a living by a driving a vehicle will, in all likelihood, be required to find employment elsewhere.

While autonomous vehicle technologies will be accompanied by numerous benefits, job displacement is a concern. Those who earn a living by a driving a vehicle will, in all likelihood, be required to find employment elsewhere. If this technology and new mobility solutions are to be integrated into the mobility ecosystems in an orderly fashion, it is imperative that government start planning for this integration and for how individuals who depend on driving for their livelihood can transition to other sectors of the economy.

Helsinki: setting the pace for the future of mobility

Helsinki appears to have found a sustainable mobility solution that will, for all intents and purposes, eliminate the need for personal vehicle ownership.

Last year, an article in Business Insider identified the 18 most innovative cities in the world. Helsinki was one these cities and was selected for its “super innovative transit system – one that will soon have a real-time marketplace for customers to choose among transport providers and piece together the fastest or cheapest way of getting where they need to go”.

Cities around the world are facing issues of congestion (costing trillions of dollars annually) and challenges related to much-needed efforts to reduce GHG emissions.  According to a recent US study, growth in congestion is “outpacing the nation’s ability to build the roads, bridges, trains and other infrastructure to handle all these people on the move”.

Helsinki_graph2Helsinki appears to have found a sustainable mobility solution that will, for all intents and purposes, eliminate the need for personal vehicle ownership by the city’s residents because it will provide them with attractive, accessible alternatives. The goal? To get there by 2020.

The solution? Mobility as a Service (MaaS). Very simply, this is a mobility distribution model where all of a user’s transportation needs are met using a single interface and managed by a mobility service provider. Access to all modes of mobility (including but not limited to bus, tramway, metro, train, taxi, car sharing, ride sharing, bike sharing) is gained through the use of a personal smart device.

According to one of the architects of Helsinki’s new mobility system, Sampo Hietanen (ITS Finland CEO), the goal is to create sustainable customer centric transportation. The vision of this innovative “Public-Private-People partnership” is that the various modes of transportation blend to the point where boundaries between them are “blurred” or disappear completely.

Clearly, this is a system that is very technology dependent, involving the interaction between user, vehicle and environment. According to Traffic Lab, the project launched by the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications to promote a market in intelligent transport services, in the future, mobility “will be a service provided by companies and facilitated by the authorities”.

Helsinki-graph1
The resident-user pays a fee for mobility that reflects his/her usage. Some examples of the mobility packages are provided following.

Helsinki_table

The cost of using this shared multi-modal mobility will be less expensive than that paid by the average citizen to access such services today. That’s fantastic as there is more disposable income left in users’ pockets.

The project team undertook market research with residents and future users.  One group that was particularly researched was composed of employers offering car benefits, including company cars and parking spots, and the personnel using these company cars and parking facilities. The intent of the research was to determine interest in replacing the current transportation benefits (provided or received) in exchange for mobility credits that would be provided by employers to the accounts of the individual members of the personnel.  The research revealed that a whopping 80% of respondents indicated a willingness to try such an exchange.

What is even more interesting, but not obvious on the surface, is that this is also an economic development initiative. Finland has no automotive industry to protect and lacks domestic sources of fossil energy. The country must import both vehicles and the fuel to power them. This hurts its trade balance and creates little domestic employment.

Suppliers, managers and operators of mobility services, on the other hand, will use locals to provide the services, thereby increasing employment. Further, companies interested in entering the Finnish mobility market to provide some of these services will result in additional investment into the Finnish economy.

The use of electric propulsion will reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The increased utilization of shared multimodal mobility will not only have a positive impact on reducing congestion and GHG emissions but it will lower the number of individually owned passenger vehicles that will be imported.

Congratulations to the architects of this transportation / environmental / economic vision. Congratulations to the government of Finland for having the foresight to undertake a program that exceeded their time in office and for recognizing that what’s good for the environment is also good for the economy.

Photo: Slava2009 / Shutterstock.com

Transit

Are transit properties seriously looking at integrating electric buses into their fleets?

Are transit properties seriously looking at integrating electric buses into their fleets? New technology is making this increasingly feasible. For example, 12 ultra-fast charging electric TOSA buses will go into service in Geneva. Developed by ABB, ultra-fast (or flash) charging system needs just 15 seconds to recharge part of energy to get to the next stop. Charging power is 400 kW. However, 15 seconds is still not enough for a full charge, so at the end of the route they will charge for up to 300 seconds (5 minutes).

Are transit properties planning for the arrival of electric, driverless vehicle technology?

Yutong, a leading Chinese bus manufacturer, has after three years of development sent its self-driving bus on a 20-mile intercity drive in Zhengzhou. According to the company, the self-driving bus drove the entire route in regular traffic without human assistance. The bus hit a top speed of 68 km/h, passed 26 traffic lights and was able to change lanes without any problem.

This autumn, a city in the Netherlands will become the first to allow fully autonomous shuttles, known as WEpods, regularly on its public roads–in the form of a small bus carting people between two towns.

The increasing use of pooled ridesharing offered by Uber and others is taking market share from transit. How are transit properties preparing for tomorrow?

Environment

The per-mile greenhouse gas emissions of an electric vehicle deployed as a self-driving, or autonomous taxi in 2030 would be 63 to 82% lower than a projected 2030 hybrid vehicle driven as a privately owned car…

Recent analyses from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concluded that “the per-mile greenhouse gas emissions of an electric vehicle deployed as a self-driving, or autonomous taxi in 2030 would be 63 to 82% lower than a projected 2030 hybrid vehicle driven as a privately owned car and 90% lower than a 2014 gasoline-powered private vehicle. Almost half of the savings are attributable to “right-sizing,” where the size of the taxi deployed is tailored to each trip’s occupancy needs.”  If only 5% of vehicles in US (800,000 units) in 2030, were converted to robo-taxis, it would save 7 million barrels of oil annually and reduce up to 2.4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year. Imagine what the impact would be if they were EVs.