Intelligent Mobility Innovation Knowledge Base

1. Introduction to this site

The future of mobility looks bright. With the advent of innovations like Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV), Mobility as a Service (MaaS), smart cities, distant presence, flexible working arrangements and new manufacturing technologies, there will be significant change and improvement in what we call Intelligent Mobility (IM).

Making sense of this disruption and progress in the sector is a significant undertaking. To start, there is no single source of information from the perspective of planners, modellers and policy makers. In particular, media hype often challenges the identification of constructive and useful information. Much research tends to highlight positive findings and sometimes fails to qualify results or recognise the importance of context. In addition, there will be differences in rates of adoption and impact across countries, and regions within countries. Nevertheless, it is vital that planners and decision makers acquire an understanding of what is likely to happen and how this could affect their work and the future of the countries, cities and transport systems.

The Intelligent Mobility (IM) Innovation Knowledge Base endeavours to synthesise current knowledge about the impact of these future disrupters and innovation on mobility. By striving to adopt an objective perspective, this site is designed to recognise uncertainties involved, provide a range of impacts over time, identify the factors that will influence development and deployment of these technologies and simultaneously hint at the policy levers that may be adopted to manage transitional periods.

In many cases, there is an absence of robust and objective estimates of impacts, timing and importance of these new developments. In these cases, a selected panel of experts provides a range of estimates that are based on an examination of the evidence as it becomes available. As a result, these impact estimates are evolving over time. This site will be updated regularly to keep pace with changes and is a work in progress, with sections in development.

The current version of the IM Innovation Knowledge Base is "work in progress" and many sections are not yet complete; some are not much more than "place holders" in need of significant improvement.

The most important of these innovations are arguably the future introduction of CAVs and Automated Vehicles (AVs)[1] – and the associated impact of Mobility as a Service (MaaS). Connectivity between vehicles and infrastructure is expected to make a significant difference.[2] However, the future scope, coverage and timing of CAVs are even more uncertain than that of AVs. This Knowledge Base will initially focus on these technologies and in future expand to cover all sections.

Recognising that the timing and importance of these impacts are imperfect and appears to evolve monthly with news of new developments, papers and research documents, this site will monitor how these innovative ideas and technologies are evolving, what can be expected from them and by when.

2. Intelligent Mobility

Intelligent Mobility uses the widest range of emerging technologies, from autonomous vehicles to seamless journey systems and multi-modal modelling software, to enable the smarter, greener and more efficient movement of people and goods around the world. Intelligent Mobility is all about taking a different approach to the challenges that have traditionally beset the transport sector, whether it be congestion, pollution or the lack of “joined up” thinking between different means of transport. It may even go further than that, however, by also helping the transport industry to address wider societal trends – including a growing and ageing global population, climate change, the rapid use of natural resources and increasing urbanisation.

The common goal is to develop future transport systems that are:

  • User-focused, to meet the needs of an ever-connected world and an ageing population;
  • Integrated, to maximise the capacity of transport;
  • Efficient, to meet global resource demands; and
  • Sustainable, to address global social, environmental and economic risks.

In order to meet these multiple challenges, Intelligent Mobility has to cut across and go beyond the traditional transport sector. Intelligent Mobility focuses instead on new and emerging technologies that hopefully make it possible to achieve more for less.

3. Smart Cities

(More detailed description to follow in further development of this site)

The idea of Smart Cities is to apply the principles of Intelligent Mobility and other technologies to achieve better and more liveable urban areas. A smart city is an urban development vision to integrate Intelligent Mobility with Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and the Internet of Things (IoT) in an efficient and secure to manage a city's assets and serve its residents better. These assets include local departments' information systems, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, and other community services. A smart city is promoted to use urban informatics and technology to improve the efficiency of services. ICT will permit city officials to interact directly with the community and the city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city, how the city is evolving, and how to enable a better quality of life. Through the use of sensors integrated with real-time monitoring systems, data are collected from citizens and devices – then processed and analysed.

Smart city applications are under development to manage urban flows and allow for real-time responses. It may work, therefore, better and faster in serving the city residents. However, as for many emerging ideas, the term itself remains open to interpretation and evolution.

4. Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV)

(More detailed description: Connected and Automated Vehicles)

A Connected and Automated Vehicle (also known as an autonomous or driverless car/vehicle, self-driving car, robotic car/taxi) is a vehicle capable of sensing its environment and navigating with little or no human input. Many such vehicles are being developed by different manufacturers. However, as of 2017, all automated vehicles permitted on public roads are not yet fully autonomous. They all require a human driver at the wheel who is ready at a moment's notice to take control of the vehicle.

Vehicles can have different levels of automation but the most innovative and disruptive will be those that do not require a driver at the wheel; indeed, they may have no steering wheel at all. Users of such vehicles will be able to undertake other activities while travelling, for example legally texting or consulting their Facebook activity. They will also provide mobility to individuals unable to drive today because of age or disability.

The vast majority of traffic accidents are due to human error; it is expected that most of them will be avoided by CAVs thus saving many lives and injuries and significant resources in hospital treatment. Automated Vehicles are also likely to have an impact on congestion, travel times, parking and public transport, among other influences. The exact timing and extent of these influences are still uncertain but what we do understand is that the change in mobility they will bring is likely to be radical.

The use of drones to deliver goods and passengers has also been proposed to overcome the limitations of congested roads. Drones have been proposed by Amazon to deliver packages and Dubai has announced that will have a fleet of flying taxis. Small enough to fit into a car parking space when folded up, the one-seater passenger drones made by Chinese company Ehang are set to start picking up passengers sometime in the near future according to CNN.

5. Mobility as a Service (MaaS)

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), sometimes also known as Transport as a Service (TaaS) describes a way of using modes of transport that do not imply owning them; the objective is to develop mobility solutions that are consumed as a service in ways that are more responsive than traditional, fixed timetable, public transport. This approach is facilitated by the use of mobile technologies, Apps that can combine transport services from public and private sector providers. Ideally, this should be achieved through a unified gateway that creates and manages the trip, which users can pay for with a single account. This shift is further enabled by improvements in the integration of multiple modes of transport into trip chains, with bookings and payments managed collectively for all legs of the trip. A current example of this is Whim originally available in Finland and now extending its reach to other locations, for example, the West Midlands in the UK.

This shift is supported by a range of new mobility service providers such as e-hailing (Uber, MyTaxi), ride sharing (BlaBlaCar), public bicycle programs, as well as on-demand bus services. On the other hand, the trend is partly accelerated by the anticipation of Automated Vehicles, cheaper than current taxi-like services as no driver will be needed. AVs change the trade-off between the cost and benefits of owning a personal car and those of relying on mobility services.

6. Data in transport

According to a report from Transport Systems Catapult, by the end of 2020 there will be over 50 billion connected devices globally collecting over 2.3 zettabytes of data each year. Shared and open data gathered from these devices can underpin mobility solutions that support integrated, efficient and sustainable transport systems – what we call Intelligent Mobility (IM). Mobility solutions are already coming to market. The sharing and release of data on arrivals, departures, timetables, routes and fares through APIs by Transport for London (TfL) has supported the development of over 200 apps saving Londoners time and money. Microlise, a fleet management and software products firm, combines sensor, GPS and phone data to provide vehicle and delivery tracking and performance reports that improve fuel efficiency and safety. This data explosion is now at the centre of a revolution in the transport sector. The prevalence of the IoT in the sector, the ubiquity of Wi-Fi on public and private transport services and ongoing recording of travel patterns mean that more data than ever is generated on how people and goods move, where they go and the environment they travel in. Geospatial data generated from mobile phones and wearable devices, data feeds from social media and willingness by users to crowdsource opinions and plug information gaps, mean data from the transport sector combined with data from other sectors has the potential to create a range of new, disruptive services that span multiple sectors.

7. How do we develop expert opinions

It is fair to argue that the timing, scope and impact of many of these innovations are difficult to forecast. Some may even fail to materialise because of their excessive costs or high-risk investment. In most cases, it is only possible to estimate a range of timings and impacts as many uncertainties remain. In order to provide some additional information on the likelihood and timing of these innovations, this site has established an International Panel of Experts consulted using a Delphi Method or poll to gather their views. We do not expect these experts to agree but in exchanging views and experiences we aim at providing a range of forecasts or expectations of the timing and impacts of new technologies and mobility innovations. These are collated and presented as ranges for particular contexts. The panel also identifies factors that would affect the deployment of these innovations so that these can be used to adapt them to different locations. This approach was used in the case of Automated Vehicles and the full report is provided elsewhere in this site.
  1. ^ This site uses the acronym AV to refer to Automated Vehicles levels 4 and 5, as it is the most frequently used at present.
  2. ^ The acronym CAV will be reserved for cases where the vehicle is both connected and automated.