Mobility ecosystems are on the verge of a digital transformation, driven by interconnected technologies.
Mobility ecosystems are on the verge of a digital transformation, driven by interconnected technologies.
( Source: gemeinfrei / Unsplash)

Internet of Mobility How the internet of mobility will transform mobility ecosystems

Author / Editor: Jamie Thomson / Jochen Schwab

Mobility ecosystems are on the verge of a digital transformation, driven by interconnected technologies. Internet of Things (IoT) and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) will enable travellers and transportation systems to be fully connected at all times within an ecosystem that’s kinder to the planet and focused on customer experience.

BAI Communications’ 2019 Continuous Connectivity Report finds that 45 percent of public transport users believe that good digital connectivity makes a city world-class. Today, there are already over 30 billion connected IoT devices in the world and we’re starting to see the impact of this on mobility ecosystems.

In short, ecosystems are becoming more autonomous, analyzing huge amounts of data to aid navigation, routing, safety and the processing of payments.

Advancements in radar sensors, location-based services, social networking and wireless technology are all contributing to the growth of what’s becoming ‘on-demand’ mobility.

Let’s take a closer look at how these technologies are transforming our mobility ecosystems:

Vehicles and infrastructure

The Internet of Things is having a significant impact on mobility, particularly when it comes to the manufacturing of vehicles themselves. Electrification and autonomy are the two fastest-approaching developments that are likely to impact the way we travel.

According to consulting firm McKinsey, in 2016, fewer than 5 percent of vehicles sold were equipped with electric powertrains. By comparison, major vehicle manufacturers say that by 2021, this figure will rise to 50 percent. And these developments aren’t restricted to domestic cars. Electric buses, trucks and other delivery vehicles are fast-becoming the commercial norm.

McKinsey also reports that in 2016, only 1 percent of vehicles sold had even partial autonomous-driving technology. By 2025 however, eight of the ten largest vehicle manufacturers say they will have highly autonomous technology road-ready.

And when we consider that Google’s autonomous driving company Waymo already has a commercial taxi service, the reality of fully-autonomous vehicles doesn’t seem that far away. For an overview of how autonomous driving is changing the automotive industry, take a look at our Basics of Autonomous Driving series.

Connected technologies will enable roads to become integrated with all types of vehicles, including bicycles and scooters, to improve traffic flow and monitor the speed of vehicles. These so-called ‘smart roads’ are already being trialed in places like the Netherlands and China.

The SolaRoad cycle path in the Netherlands, which converts sunlight to electricity, was initially set-up in 2014 and having exceeded expectations, is due to be rolled out to roads with heavy traffic. A similar project is also underway in China that uses plastic-covered solar panels on road surfaces to run street lights, surveillance cameras and toll booths.

Managed service providers

According to a recent United Nations report, there will be 2.5 billion more people living in cities by 2050. These figures present a clear need to manage city traffic congestion, reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality.

As mobility ecosystems become more inter-connected, we can expect to see Managed Service Providers (MSPs) offering on-demand, autonomous ridesharing as part of public transportation systems. Some ride-hailing companies like Uber, already have carpool initiatives that are proving popular.

Mobile apps such as Finland’s Whim and Germany’s Reach Now are already using IoT and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to analyze private travel options and identify the quickest and most affordable journey between two points. DLT is a digital system for recording monetary transactions and as such, mobile users can then pay for their journey using Apple and Google Pay.

In the future, these MSPs will use traveller data to help secure the future of our mobility ecosystems. The insights that they gather will be used to offer more convenient ride sharing services and consequently reduce the impact that vehicles have on our environment.

Journey planners and digital roadmaps

Data generated from travellers using inter-connected devices will help optimize traffic flows in real-time. According to the UK’s Trade Unions Congress, annual commuting time is up 18 hours compared to a decade ago, with drivers spending an average of 52 minutes on the road per day.

Longer travel times provide the opportunity for companies to provide in-transit experiences that can be used to gather data to improve traffic conditions. Entertainment in the form of mobile games for example, can be used to provide journey-planning apps with traffic management intelligence to ease congestion on busy roads.

In our article on smart mobility and digital roadmaps, we make the point that the driverless revolution will heavily rely on the right infrastructure. Roadmaps will need to be supported by an IT infrastructure that can manage data storage, performance, mobilisation and security from one central location.

For an insightful overview of how the Internet of Mobility will transform mobility ecosystems, take a look at this video on the future of mobility from Deloitte: