A pioneering mass transit provider, a car-sharing company, and a motoring club – as different the viewpoints of our guest authors may be, they all share one conviction: The outcome of the imminent mobility revolution will be also a question of the technologies used, in the vehicles as well as in any auxiliary systems.
“The next five to ten years are probably going to be the most exiting period ever in the area of mobility.” This affirmative expectation that Markus Schlitt, CEO of Yunex Traffic, voiced in a recent interview clearly reflects his feelings of great anticipation in view of the emerging mobility revolution. “For us as a global leader in the traffic engineering market, it is a great privilege to be involved in actively shaping this transformation… and also a challenge of at least the same proportions.”
That he is anything but alone in this assessment can be read between the lines of the statements provided by our three renowned guest authors, whose contributions constitute the centerpiece of this “Mobility as a field of tension” special. All three – Henrik Falk, CEO of HOCHBAHN AG Hamburg, Oliver Schmerold, Direktor ÖAMTC, and Olivier Reppert, CEO of car2go, an affiliate company of Deutsche Post DHL Group – radiate true pioneering spirit, and many of their answers show how very keen on change they are.
Whether this will bring lasting benefits or chronical suffering for cities and towns, will depend above all on the role the municipalities themselves are going to play. The more actively a city is involved in steering the mobility revolution, the greater the chance it has of being among the winners. The reverse conclusion is just as true, of course: The longer a city hesitates to take action, the higher the risk for it to be overrun by fully automated and digitalized traffic, literally as well as metaphorically. Be proactive, not reactive – this must be the motto for cities and all other institutions that are responsible for developing sustainable mobility systems for the future.
Five perfectly interlocking cogwheels
In the vision of the Yunex Traffic experts, the mobility of the next generation will be driven by a smart engine with five perfectly interlocking cogwheels: Besides intermodal mobility management, modern traffic management, charging management for urban electric-powered fleets and supply management for private electric vehicles these include also the management of fleets of autonomous vehicles – for instance an agile system of self-driving mini-buses that promise their users substantially shorter travel times thanks to their high priority within the traffic network. “For people today, time is turning more and more into a limiting factor,” says Markus Schlitt. “So, if mini-buses can take their passengers faster to their destination than a self-driving taxi, they will become a very attractive alternative, opening up a big potential for mitigating the expected further growth in urban traffic volumes.“
The holistic interconnection of all means of transport, including the seamless integration of new mobility services such as car-sharing schemes and rental bikes, is paving the way for a truly revolutionary transformation of fundamental mobility clusters. “Public transport will suddenly become public-based individual travel,” explains Markus Schlitt. “That is exactly the point that we need to get to if we want to build a future mobility landscape that does not flood our cities with self-driving cars, but instead offers custom-tailored mobility services for every user and helps improve the quality of urban living.“
For people today, time is turning more and more into a limiting factor.
Optimization measures that enhance the capabilities of smart infrastructure in terms of real-time traffic information and the provision of data for assisted and proactive driving and as basic support level for autonomous driving will make it possible to shrink the temporal resolution for monitoring and data supply from hours to mere milliseconds. As a result, today’s macro-management of traffic will evolve into a micro-management system that links everything with everything else and thus maximizes the scope of action for decision-makers and mobility authorities.
In the context of the development of tomorrow’s technological solutions, a special focus in on the potential of Artificial Intelligence. A first impression of the enormous added value that can be derived from the ever-growing wealth of data generated by everyday traffic can be gained at the Data Analytics and Application Center (DAAC), where already today, Yunex Traffic is working together with pilot customers in developing data-driven applications and services on the basis of data analytics and self-learning algorithms. The solutions range from network analyses and smart traffic management functions right up to fleet management solutions and tools for intermodal mobility management.
Peter Rosenberger, a journalist in Bodman-Ludwigshafen
Picture credits: iStock/chombosan, iStock/metamorworks, Siemens AG