Living more in tune with the world means making our journeys more comfortable, safer and more sustainable. So if we are to invent a new mobility model for the future, we must envision new transportation systems that are more resource-efficient and guarantee passenger well-being and safety. We’ve taken a close look at the solutions we have today, and those that should soon change the way we travel.
How can personal desires for freedom of travel and mobility be reconciled more successfully with our shared expectations for sustainable development? What alternatives are there today? We reached out to meet with those who are inventing tomorrow’s solutions today.
Reinventing mobility for tomorrow also means making profound changes to the relationship we have with the public space and the way we move around in it; changes that must embrace the concepts of sharing, fairness and freedom.
“Mobility is a public-private network, it is one system that serves a mutual need.”
“The movement of people and things is critical to prosperity: it provides access to jobs, education, healthcare, finance, trade, social interaction, recreation opportunities and more. But, today, it is the single source of emissions that still increases while we battle to curb the social, economic, and environmental threats of climate change: passenger mobility accounts for 70% of transportation greenhouse gas emissions and often causes over 90% of city air pollution. That’s why decarbonizing mobility is high on the World Economic Forum’s Future of Mobility platform agenda.
For a long time, mobility has been perceived as either privately or publicly owned. This artificial separation, which has taken up more resources than needed, does not seem relevant anymore. Mobility is a public-private network, it is one system that serves a mutual need and many of its aspects are privately manufactured and operated but partially funded by taxpayers’ money (infrastructure maintenance and transportation signage, for example). And, many of our 20th century urban planning and mobility policies are incapable of effectively managing a rapidly evolving mobility landscape. In other words, although the technologies to drive a much-desired mobility as a service are there, we do not yet integrate them in a manner that reassures they are providing a truly sustainable and resilient future for all.
To face these challenge, we initiated the Global New Mobility Coalition, a community of over 200 renowned experts, NGOs and companies, to drive the transition to sustainable and resilient urban mobility ecosystems. By linking shared, electric, connected, and automated mobility solutions, many of which are already at our disposal, we could free up 75% of our street space and reduce carbon emissions from 4,600 to less than 700 megatons by 2050. The linking tissue between these socio-technological innovations is turning mobility from a product or asset to a service. What’s encouraging is that the adoption of these transitions can be achieved while serving an increasing demand for mobility, improving urbanization processes, and propelling growth.
The GNMC multi-stakeholder community is designed to accelerate the transition to a sustainable mobility in a 21st century, through partnerships. This extremely diverse group already identified multiple avenues for a sustainable mobility as a service transition which are mutually beneficial: for example, the introduction of dynamic pricing (when the price is adjusted to the demand), flexible road access regulation, integrated mobility hubs and charging infrastructure. These policies should prioritize active mobility and high occupancy ridership, as well as the adoption of zero-emission modes. If constantly evaluated and improved using real-world data, and reflect the impacts of each mobility options appropriately, such policies can inform more sustainable decisions made by those providing mobility services and those using them. Experimentation with such policies is underway.
Inventing a new model for mobility and making it a reality also means developing innovative technologies and local transportation policies based on integrated strategies that address the full range of economic, social and environmental issues. In this context, the key to success is genuinely effective cooperation between all players, and especially those based in Europe.
“To invent tomorrow's mobility, we need better complementarity between traditional modes of public transportation and new mobility services.”
"How can innovation contribute to the implementation of sustainable mobility, particularly in urban transportation? This is one of the major lines of work of the Polis Network, a European network of 80 cities and regions of all sizes cooperating for innovative transport solutions. Governance of innovation is at the heart of our actions: how can we, as a city, better anticipate and supervise the development of innovative mobility solutions? How can we encourage useful innovation, i.e. innovation that, far from being an end in itself, provides solutions and levers for action to achieve our public and political objectives? We are convinced that public transportation and active travel are the backbone of any sustainable urban mobility ecosystem to enable cities to meet the many challenges of pollution, congestion and lower emissions.
To invent tomorrow's mobility, we therefore need better complementarity between traditional public transportation modes and new mobility services, whether carpooling or micromobility. To achieve this, we need to broaden our definition of public transportation, with more physical infrastructure, more "hubs" where the different modes can meet, but also better digital access to this new mobility conceived as a service. Second, we need to ensure that we have a set of sustainable modes of travel that are attractive enough to be alternatives to the private car.
For this new mobility to be efficient, sustainable and inclusive, we need to build constructive public-private partnerships to find solutions that work for both sides and reduce negative externalities. Citizens must also be at the heart of this reflection, in order to facilitate their involvement at every stage of the process. Co-creating and trialling solutions are key, to enhance public acceptance of sometimes politically sensitive measures. That’s how the city of Stockholm (Sweden) got citizens’ buy-in for the congestion charge. According to me, the current health crisis can also be an opportunity to experiment new solutions, like the massive respacing of city streets we have seen, to secure a sustainable recovery which doesn’t lose sight of the climate targets set by the European Green Deal, a fight in which cities are at the forefront".
The future of mobility also includes individual mobility through the introduction of safer, more comfortable and more energy-efficient cars. Technological innovation is therefore another asset in terms of reconciling performance with reduced consumption of natural resources.
THEY DID IT
“Our innovative glazing systems are helping to transform mobility.”
How can glazing contribute to a new model of sustainable mobility?
“Saint-Gobain Sekurit has a very substantial level of expertise in automotive glass systems, and in recent years has developed a series of increasingly sophisticated glazing solutions to meet market demand and comply with new regulations. But the speed at which the mobility transformation is advancing has encouraged us to be proactive in suggesting new uses for our products. Conserving resources, using less energy and reducing CO2 emissions are all high on the list of user concerns. And the increasing electrification of the global vehicle fleet is a major advance that is driving innovation even further. So we’re now developing lightweight solutions that improve acoustic and thermal comfort, reducing the amount of energy used for vehicle climate control. Depending on weather conditions, these solutions can extend electric vehicle range by as much as 5 %. But that’s not all: to help our automotive industry customers achieve their own environmental targets - which have become major strategic challenges over the past two or three years - we’re contributing as a responsible partner, and sometimes as a pioneering partner. So we’ve set up a series of programs to recycle our materials, use recycled glass and reduce our CO2 emissions at every stage of our production processes.”
How can technology make mobility safer?
“Safety is a key issue that helps improve the user experience and make vehicles a different kind of ‘home’ environment. Our glazing systems will become key contributors to vehicle safety. Our expertise in the design, optical properties and manufacturing processes of glass solutions plays a crucial role in ensuring the performance of the new sensors, cameras and LiDAR (laser remote sensing) integral to new advanced driver assistance systems: anti-collision systems and real-time guidance solutions that provide drivers with information about their immediate environment and potential hazards. Saint-Gobain Sekurit can guarantee correct operation of these sensors under all conditions by protecting them from rain, dust and aging. They are valuable driving aids that empower users with greater autonomy.”
What kind of innovations will change the way we travel?
“By combining our expertise in glass projection and head-up displays, we’ve developed a glazing solution - now fitted to a minibus - that can project contextual information over the entire surface area of the glass. And Cerence technology, world's leading supplier of automotive assistants, has allowed us to script voice commands that illustrate the real-life use cases we showcased at CES 2020. Our glazing systems for lighting, projection, acoustic lighting ambiance and other applications are developed to reinvent the onboard experience and optimize passenger and driver comfort. For example, our AmpliSky interactive roof avoids transparent glazing that can be switched to become instantly opaque, at the same time as maintaining thermal comfort in the passenger compartment. In developing solutions like these, we’re increasingly working as one contributor to a wider innovation ecosystem, and many of the technologies we’re working on today are the outcomes of partnerships. All of which demonstrates that by working together to capitalize on their individual expertise in materials, innovation skills and manufacturing capacity, mobility actors can deliver practical solutions that combine improved performance, at the same time as conserving resources.
As we’ve seen, the industry is already playing a major role in transforming the way we travel. New solutions mean that this process of evolutionary change is now also shaping the way in which it delivers its products. Here are some of these innovations in pictures.