More than 150 years since the invention of the internal combustion engine, the transport and mobility industry is once again in metamorphosis.
The urgent need to decarbonise and use space more efficiently in urban areas is pushing the industry to toward ‘smart mobility’ solutions.
Smart mobility is a new and revolutionary way of thinking about how we get around – one that is cleaner, safer, and more efficient.
Whether by road, rail, air, or hyper-speed vacuum tubes, these six companies have been quick to position themselves as leaders in the smart mobility revolution.
Can you imagine travelling from London to Paris in under an hour, without flying?
Dutch company Hardt Hyperloop wants to make that vision a reality with their ambitious 10,000km trans-european hyperloop network.
The high-speed mass transportation system is designed to glide at speeds of 700mph or more, propelled within a low-pressure tube by a linear electric motor – making travel energy-efficient and carbon-neutral.
Hardt Hyperloop was recently awarded €15m (c.£12.7m) from the European Commission to accelerate the development of its technology.
Globally many investors are backing hyperloop as a clean, safe, and convenient alternative to short-haul flights.
As a result, the global hyperloop market is expected to snowball from $1.2bn (c.£870m) in 2021 to $6.6bn (c.£4.7bn) by 2026 – an annual growth rate of over 40%.
German-based firm Lilium is in the advanced stages of developing an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxi network – scheduled for commercial launch in 2024.
Established in 2015 with over 700 employees from 50 different nationalities, of which 400 are experienced aerospace engineers, Lilium is a leader in urban air mobility (UAM).
The initial range of each 7-seater jet is expected to be 155 miles, with a cruise speed of 175mph, supported by a ‘vertiport’ network of small, compact stations for embarking and disembarking the aircraft.
These compact air taxis are expected to take to the skies shortly, with cities such as Paris and Rome already developing plans to rollout the technology.
No surprise then that the global eVTOL market could be worth a whopping £750bn by 2040.
Digital transportation specialists Siemens Mobility recently launched the ‘Digital S-Bahn’ project in Hamburg, Germany, which features the country’s first fully automated driverless trains.
The trains enable a much higher operating frequency, which increases capacity, improves punctuality, and reduces power consumption.
The project is the start of a nation-wide rollout and demonstrates how digitalisation can transform tried and tested train transportation to tackle 21st century urban challenges.
Automated trains will become an increasingly central component of smart transport infrastructure in the years to come, with an estimated 100,000 units on the world’s railways by 2030.
In the words of Morgan Stanley, the car of the future is likely to be shared, autonomous, and electric.
Founded in 2014 by Oxford professors Paul Newman and Ingmar Posner, Oxbotica provides a software suite that brings full autonomy to any land-based vehicle.
Oxbotica recently teamed up with German auto-manufacturing giants ZF to develop a Level 4 self-driving system for Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) passenger shuttles.
These shuttles have enormous potential to reduce emissions and congestion and offer an attractive last-mile transport solution for cities.
While it’s still early days for full-scale autonomous shuttles systems, the market valuation of £54bn by 2026, from just £4.9bn in 2019, is testament to the growth of MaaS solutions globally.
Volocopter, one of the world’s foremost air mobility companies, has developed a fully-electric vertical take-off cargo drone capable of carrying 200kg parcels over distances up to 40km.
Cargo drones like the ‘VoloDrone’ are becoming an increasingly common fixture in the logistics industry.
Drones delivering online shopping parcels, vital medicines to otherwise inaccessible locations, or zipping around warehouses are no longer the stuff of science fiction.
As a result, the drone logistics and transportation market is projected to grow from £8.1bn in 2022 and £21bn by 2027.
The future of smart mobility is electric, so it goes without saying that integrating charging infrastructure into our bult environment is a cornerstone of the transport revolution.
From electric vehicle (EV) chargers for homes offices, to charging stations for entire bus fleets, Swedish-Swiss automation company ABB is one of Europe’s the leading suppliers of smart charging solutions.
This October, Basel, Switzerland, selected ABB to supply the necessary electrification and charging solutions to support a 100% city-wide rollout of e-buses by 2027.
For cities like Basel, and across the world, ABB is poised to be an essential partner on the path to clean, smart mobility.
Main image: Solveig Been/Shutterstock
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