Last week marked 100 years since some women were, at last, given the right to vote in UK elections. We remark how much economic, social and technical change there’s been in the last few years – let alone over decades and a century.
But some things haven’t changed so much over the last century. We still get on trains, which follow a timetable; we take buses, which are supposed to follow a timetable and we drive cars, which are based on the same internal combustion engine fundamentals recognisable in 1918. And those are generally owned or leased, sitting outside our homes quietly depreciating 96 per cent of the time.
But now things are changing: the explosion of ride-sharing Apps such as Uber, car-sharing products such as DriveNow and Turo, the reduction of car ownership in metropolitan areas and a drop in new driving licences issued are proof enough.
Connected cars and cloud-based services are transforming mobility, which has meant owning a car, into Mobility as a Service – MaaS. That could be calling a cab or services such as Tantalum’s Pay.Car, which will make car-based transactions a synch. Add on driverless cars and we’re talking about a revolution.
For city planners this could mean demand-responsive bus services, geo-fenced road user charging schemes and smart congestion management. Or fleets of driverless cars clogging up the streets waiting for their next ride.
So, events such as last week’s Connected Vehicle and Smart Mobility conference in Brussels are vital: they give mobility innovators and decision makers the opportunities to meet, make connections and work to ensure that the revolution in MaaS leads to sustainable transport options, less congested roads and lower pollution.
For the decisions and regulations made now are going to set the rules of the game and drive the connected and autonomous car economy for the foreseeable future.