Sep 27, 2023
Credits: Artur Voznenko, Unsplash
Credits: Artur Voznenko, Unsplash
Katarina Horst

Smart mobility - the future of transport

Connectivity, urbanisation, individualisation, and sustainability goals are shaping the future of mobility. Hence, it's crucial today to develop sustainable mobility concepts that cater to both the constant need for available mobility and the demand for sustainability. One approach that meets these requirements is smart mobility.

Smart Mobility, commonly referred to as "Smart Mobility", describes the interconnection of all modes of transport, vehicles, parking spaces, roads, traffic lights, apps, and much more. The objective? To intelligently manage and distribute traffic. For a long-term successful transition in transportation, the integration of traffic flows is indispensable.

The Connected Car

In the automotive industry, alongside electric mobility and autonomous driving, a third development is taking place: Connectivity. Cars already communicate with smartphones, access the internet, and autonomously find parking spaces. But what's the purpose?

Primarily, in-car connectivity aims to enhance safety and comfort. However, it's not just about communication between the driver and the vehicle. Cars are increasingly connecting with their surroundings, other vehicles, infrastructure, and external services.

Connected vehicles can warn their drivers of potential hazards, especially those that might arise in the future. Moreover, cars can alert each other to risks, leading to additional safety benefits. Communication with urban infrastructure ensures smooth traffic flows, as vehicles can opt for less congested routes and roads aren't used by drivers searching for parking. Another smart feature is the car's ability to autonomously schedule a service appointment when needed.

Connected Car, Bike, and Scooter Sharing Models

Those who don't wish to own a car often rely on sharing providers. Vehicles, scooters, or bicycles are rented, booked, reserved, and paid for via mobile platforms. The vehicle's location can be viewed online, and after use, it's left at the destination, depending on the provider's model, either station-based or location-independent. Various models exist, including those where private individuals offer their vehicles for others to use.

The benefits are evident, as sharing saves on acquisition costs and ensures efficient use since the vehicle isn't left unused in a garage or on the street. Furthermore, it's cost-effective as users don't incur ongoing expenses and it's convenient since the provider handles maintenance and repairs.

Connected Infrastructure in Cities

A central element of smart mobility is connected infrastructures in cities. The goal is to provide residents with an efficient, low-noise, and eco-friendly mobility solution, allowing flexible, clean, and demand-driven travel from point A to B.

This includes intelligent traffic management: Traffic lights can be adjusted to current traffic conditions to reduce average travel time within a city. Moreover, potential hazards in the road network can be detected early, with appropriate measures implemented for improvement.

Another concept for the smart city is connected parking guidance systems. These guide drivers to available parking spaces and car parks – both in public areas and on commercial parking spaces of shopping centres, businesses, or recreational facilities.

Other elements of the connected city include autonomous transport options and improved connections between cities and rural areas. Concepts like last-mile parcel delivery, collaborative logistics, dynamic address and boot delivery, urban consolidation centres, cooperative parcel stations, and supermarkets as fulfilment centres also contribute to the city's connected infrastructure.

The Connected City of the Future

The trend is moving away from individual vehicles or exclusive use of public transport towards integrated and customisable mobility solutions. The possibilities offered by this connectivity are endless. However, various stakeholders, such as cities, car manufacturers, and sharing service providers, must collaborate both now and in the future. The smart mobility of the future combines various transport offers with the digitised city.

A prerequisite is the expansion of high-performance broadband networks capable of transmitting large volumes of data in real-time. The associated 5G communication standard forms the foundation for integrating, for instance, autonomous vehicles in cities. Thus, creating secure structures for data processing, coupled with comprehensive cyber-security concepts, is essential.

Once the technical infrastructure requirements are met, other technologies, currently not deployable, become conceivable in the city of the future. For example, electric, autonomous air taxis that can complement the urban mobility offer. In the city of the future, connected technologies can achieve both: efficiently meeting residents' mobility needs while acting sustainably.

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