Smart Transportation for Smart, Sustainable Cities
June 4, 2018 | In The Press
Movin’ On, Michelin’s World Summit on Sustainable Mobility was held May 30-June 1 in Montreal. The event brought together 90 influencers in the transportation and mobility industries and more than 4,000 participants in the Movin’ On ecosystem, including Bestmile. Other invitees came from “academia, politics, cities and businesses, to chart a course toward sustainable mobility.”
Meanwhile, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) is grappling with the “seismic shifts in politics, gig-economics, society, demographics, and the impact of AI, robotics and other technologies” at its UK ULI Annual Conference. Bestmile’s Anne Milano will be there to present on a panel, “Driving value through reciprocal relationships.”
The sustainability of cities is front and center, with population growth raising critical questions about cities’ ability to absorb what is expected to be a historic migration in coming decades.
According to the United Nations, three million people move to cities around the world every week, and urban populations are expected to nearly double by 2050. Cities are outgrowing housing, energy, and traffic infrastructures, with degrading air quality, and few will be able to build their way out of the imbalance.
Many have noted that cities will need to get smarter in order to grow in ways that improve the quality of life of the people that live, work, and travel within them. Autonomous mobility services are often mentioned as a possible solution to some of these problems by easing congestion and pollution and possibly freeing up real estate currently used to support private autos–all by creating shared, emission-free transit solutions that reduce or eliminate the need for private autos.
While the shift towards a highly-automated driving experience has already begun and is expected to advance to full autonomy, the majority of players in the industry have a vehicle-centric approach and are focused on the development of reliable autonomous vehicles. However, the autonomous vehicle alone is not a service, nor does it take into consideration the existing transportation ecosystem.
The economic, social and environmental benefits of autonomous vehicles can be most fully realized when vehicles are integrated into a coherent and coordinated urban mobility system, together with the existing transportation modes and city infrastructure. There will be multiple brands of vehicles on the road, and human-driven vehicles and services and autonomous vehicles will co-exist. Synchronizing as many modes of mobility as possible can optimize efficiency and deliver on the promise of new mobility services.
Vehicles being tested today use advanced cameras, lasers, GPS, wireless communication and more to navigate cities and to avoid accidents. More data is on the way. Smart city initiatives will result in the availability of more data such as road sensors that monitor traffic, parking lot sensors that locate empty parking spaces, responsive traffic signals that streamline traffic, and power strips to charge electric vehicles. Sensors can also be used on bicycles, scooters, pedestrians — even pets — to better alert vehicles to the locations others sharing the roads. Mobility service providers will need vehicles that can process diverse data from multiple sources.
Most importantly, for the urban transportation of the future to relieve congestion and pollution and reduce the auto-centric infrastructure, it will need to be shared. Simply replacing private human-driven autos with private autonomous autos may not traffic incrementally better by eliminating much of humans’ erratic driving behavior, and widespread adoption of electric vehicles can reduce emissions, but the ability to safely and efficiently move people from point-to-point within cities will require solutions that make private vehicle use the exception rather than the rule.
Data will also need to be shared. Efficient shared mobility will require an ecosystem of technologies that can deliver and share data that can be used by vehicles, and vehicle technology that can understand, process and act on data from multiple sources in real-time, delivering a that is safer, faster, and less expensive than private vehicle use.