Autonomous and electric mobility is changing cities

Autonomous and electric mobility is changing cities

Electric and automatic public transport

The total decarbonisation of the transport network in a city implies the collaboration of various sectors, such as municipal chambers or energy providers. The cities of Boston and Paris are examples of how governments can partner with businesses for cleaner and more inclusive mobility for all citizens.

In conjunction with the World Economic Forum, the Boston Government implements a network of fully autonomous and electric vehicles, which complements the rest of the mobility system in the city.

For its part, Paris developed a mobility ecosystem, Mobility Nation, which was developed by public and private entities, in order to promote innovation in this area.

Various social, economic and technological trends will work together to modify mobility.

To see cities from above is to observe a world in motion. Trains take people to and from work; taxis circulate in abstract patterns; trucks deliver goods and take away garbage; pedestrians rush through city blocks; Cyclists go through traffic. Mobility is the soul of our cities and is essential for urban life.

However, our desire for mobility has consequences: Cities can be noisy, congested, and prone to pollution. Too many urban residents spend hours stuck in traffic; no one can escape air pollution. Mobility is also a critical economic factor, both in its own right and as a means of providing the goods and services that are the basis of economic life. Finally, mobility is important to people, whether it's going to work or school with ease, visiting friends and family, or just exploring the surroundings. However, in relatively few places, the reality of what is available matches the public's aspirations for safe, clean, reliable and affordable ways to get from A to B, and vice versa.

Inevitably, individual cities will make different decisions, based on specific local conditions, and will go in different directions, and overall mobility systems in 2030 will look very similar to today on average.

However, there is a group of about 50 urban areas that could lead the way to one of the three models of advanced mobility. These areas have the potential to demonstrate the profound effects of mobility innovation on everything from energy systems to the use of public space, while introducing a new dynamism to the city.

The mobility systems of the future are likely to be very different from those that exist in most of the world today. The individual traveler is at the heart of this evolution, so consumers should be open to adopting new technologies and services. However, both the public and private sectors will have a role to play in paving the way.

Move to the future

In cities from Tokyo to Vancouver, the reality of mobility change is already evident. More shifts ahead. These changes will allow people to travel more efficiently, cheaper, more frequently, and in different ways. But the future is not set, and the public and private sectors play an important role in helping avoid the difficulties associated with increased congestion, air quality concerns, and other potential negative outcomes.

To better capture the benefits, the public and private sector, locally and globally, needs to prepare for the future, not wait for it. Governments may wish to anticipate these new mobility models by crafting regulations consistent with consumer-friendly technological developments that also promote larger public goals, such as clean air and reducing congestion. They must think ahead, both to replace the potential loss of fuel tax revenue and to review their connection to the private sector. Strong partnerships that facilitate the combination of public transport and private mobility will likely produce the best solutions.

Why does this matter? Because achieving the right mobility could be a significant competitive advantage for cities. This change can help clean the air of pollution and reduce deaths from traffic accidents. It is an opportunity to improve the quality of life, day after day, for billions of people.

Download the full report (in English) An Integrated Perspective on the Future of Mobility (PDF-19,792KB).

Optimal use of renewable energies

One of the lesser known advantages of betting on electric mobility is the fact that it can contribute to a better use of renewable energy. Sometimes, the energy produced from these sources, especially that which comes from the sun and the wind, cannot be used in its entirety due to insufficient consumption. As such, the grid is "saturated" with energy, which forces to limit production, precisely what we want to avoid, since we seek optimal and maximum use of clean energy sources.

The generalization of the use of electric vehicles can solve this limitation: either locally, by using smart solutions to accelerate the consumption of electric vehicle chargers, in times of high sun, or either at a global level of the system, since electric vehicles are often charged during the night, that is, when there is less consumption and more wind energy, which avoids the waste of renewable resources.

Naturally, car charging habits will have an impact and will bring new challenges in the way the electricity grid is organized, as they will produce higher demand peaks than we have seen to date, especially at the end of the day.

Video: Organizing Our Cities Around Autonomous Vehicles Robin Chase Interview (October 2020).