In our ever-changing world, the way we move from point A to point B is constantly evolving. From horse-drawn carriages to electric scooters, transportation has come a long way, and it continues to transform at an unprecedented pace. As we stand at the crossroads of innovation and sustainability, let’s embark on a journey to explore the mobility trends that are shaping the future of transportation.
Electric Revolution: The Rise of EVs
The internal combustion engine dominated the automotive industry for over a century, though is now undergoing a significant transformation. Electric vehicles (EVs) are leading the charge, both figuratively and literally. With advancements in battery technology, EVs are becoming more affordable, with longer ranges and faster charging times. Major automakers are investing heavily in electric mobility, and many countries are implementing incentives to encourage EV adoption.
Although automotive companies have developed an ever-growing number of electric-driven models, there are risks that the necessary supporting infrastructure is lagging too far behind. This in turn creates new opportunities. In the UK, for example, many motorists claim there are too few public places to recharge electric vehicles. In response, numerous local authorities are turning to crowdfunding to invite private investors to join them in rolling out electric vehicle charging points.
Startup companies, often launched on the back of crowdfunding such as Cornish Lithium and Cornish Tin, aim to create a domestic UK supply chain of minerals vital for electric vehicle battery production, and end reliance on imports from China. They intend to re-open old mines and use more advanced mining techniques and sustainable energy to revive a whole industry sector.
What’s Next: The future of electric mobility holds promises of even more efficient batteries, wireless charging, and an expanded charging infrastructure. Autonomous electric vehicles are also on the horizon, paving the way for safer and more convenient transportation.
Ride-Sharing and Mobility as a Service (MaaS)
The concept of car ownership is shifting as ride-sharing services and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platforms gain popularity. Instead of owning a vehicle, people are opting for on-demand transportation options like Uber, Lyft, and Bolt, and public transit apps that provide seamless access to multiple modes of transportation within a single app.
Accompanying developments such as electronic ticketing and contactless payment make it easier and more cost efficient for passengers to use multiple public transport modes within a single journey. Some urban transport authorities also use crowdsourcing to continually update live information on the public transport performance.
What’s Next: MaaS is expected to evolve further with the integration of various transportation options like e-bikes, e-scooters, and autonomous shuttles. This integration aims to reduce congestion, lower emissions, and make the future of transportation more efficient and convenient for everyone.
Sustainable Solutions: From Bicycles to Micro-Mobility
In an era where environmental concerns are paramount, sustainable transportation options are flourishing. Bicycles, electric scooters, and other micro-mobility solutions are becoming increasingly popular for short trips and last-mile connectivity. These mobility alternatives reduce congestion, promote healthier lifestyles, and lower carbon footprints.
Last-mile delivery is becoming a hot topic as online shopping continues to grow and inner town and city roads experience growing congestion due to a myriad of delivery vehicles. Some see electric cargo bikes as a solution, or even delivery by drones to more remote areas.
Electric scooters, however, tend to generate a mixed reaction when considering the future of transportation. In London, UK, there is a confusing scenario in which rented e-scooters are allowed on the roads but privately-owned ones are not. Within the European Union, Paris in France has banned them completely, while they could become legal throughout the Republic of Ireland within a few months.
What’s Next: Expect to see advancements in micro-mobility technology, including longer-lasting batteries, improved safety features, and smarter integration with urban planning to create bike-friendly cities.
Hyperloop and High-Speed Rail
Imagine traveling at speeds exceeding 700 miles per hour in a vacuum tube. This futuristic vision is becoming a reality with projects like the Hyperloop. Additionally, high-speed rail networks are expanding, connecting distant cities and reducing the need for short-haul flights.
In May 2023, France introduced a legal ban on short-haul internal flights for routes where there is a high speed train alternative available. In September 2023, however, the UK Government cut back on plans for a controversial high speed train link between London and cities in the North of England. Although high speed train technology exists and is continually developed, political will and commitment, and affordability of the expensive infrastructure will vary from country to country.
What’s Next: The development of high-speed rail and Hyperloop technology are mobility trends that will continue, making long-distance travel faster, more efficient, and environmentally friendly.
The Role of AI and Autonomous Vehicles
Artificial intelligence (AI) is playing a pivotal role in transportation. Autonomous vehicles are being tested on roads worldwide, promising safer and more efficient transportation. AI also contributes to traffic management, reducing congestion and improving road safety.
However, the challenges faced by programmers to make driverless cars faultless seem endless. A driverless taxi caused disruption in San Francisco in August 2023 when it drove into some wet concrete that had just been put down. The AI training has to cover every eventuality.
What’s Next: As AI becomes more advanced, autonomous vehicles will become a more common sight on our roads. In the future of transportation these vehicles will communicate with each other and infrastructure, reducing accidents and optimizing traffic flow.
The Green Revolution: Sustainable Fuels
The push for sustainable fuels, such as hydrogen and biofuels, is gaining momentum. These fuels have the potential to replace fossil fuels in various modes of transportation, from trucks and ships to airplanes.
As an example, global shipping is responsible for 3% of worldwide greenhouse gases. Growth in demand for shipping worldwide means that maritime emissions have been accelerating faster than most other sectors, and without action, shipping could be responsible for 10-13% of global emissions within a few decades. Accordingly, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that ammonia will provide 45% of shipping fuel demand by 2050, whilst some prominent operators are backing new fuel developments based on methanol.
What’s Next: The development of green fuels will continue, aiming to reduce carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.
The future of transportation is an exciting blend of innovation, sustainability, and efficiency. From electric vehicles to AI-driven autonomous transportation and sustainable solutions, mobility trends are charting a course towards a more interconnected, eco-friendly, and convenient world. As we navigate this future, one thing is clear: the journey promises to be as thrilling as the destination. So, buckle up, stay informed, and be part of the mobility revolution that’s shaping what’s next in transportation.
BOLD Awards 2024
Boldest Mobility is one of 33 categories in the fifth edition of the international, annual BOLD Awards. This category recognizes startups, individuals or companies who are bringing the very best mobility solutions, public transport, and other intelligent transport systems and applications and have the potential to make a profound impact on the modern world. This award highlights some of the most ambitious, innovative, and successful sustainable mobility solutions.
Entries can be submitted from now until the end of 2023. Entrants can return to their submission and update it as many times and as often as they wish – so don’t delay. A round of public voting in January 2024 will establish a short-list of finalists in each category, and an international panel of judges will add their assessment to the public votes to decide winners. All finalists will be invited to attend a gala dinner award ceremony held in Venice, Italy, on March 22, 2024, when the winners will be announced.