- What circumstances require people to be mobile today?
- How can new technologies better meet those requirements in the future?
Our motivation for mobility is rarely just the “joy of driving”. Instead, it can generally be divided into three broad categories:
Socialising, communication and organization
People commute to the office, meet with friends, drive to visit family or take care of formalities with the authorities. For all those encounters, travel time is an accepted factor, even though the actual location of the meeting in question plays a minor role. Video telephony hasn’t quite replaced all personal meetings just yet but, in the future, travel time will be saved by digital teleportation. This might sound fanciful, but it’s not – some of our leading technology companies are already making very significant investments in this area.
Shopping and exchange of goods
In Germany alone, goods to a value of more than 50 billion euro are ordered via the internet every year. Each order delivered to your home saves you travel time. But online delivery still fails too often, due to long delays in the supply chain and absent customers at the end of the transaction. Such problems will, however, be resolved in the future and driving to your local supermarket will soon be the exception rather than the rule.
Consider the potential of drone delivery, for example – the future is already here.
It’s also possible to imagine that some goods will be delivered as part of autonomous shops right outside the customer’s front door. This means fewer trips to the supermarket and simplified online shopping.
Of course, not everything will be delivered by drones, robots or autonomous supermarkets in the future. The classic delivery service will still exist, but in a much smarter way.
Multi-sensory environmental experience and physical tasks
Despite a big reduction in our dependency on vehicles, people will still continue to change their physical location. In future, they will increasingly combine multiple transportation options to get to their destinations quicker, cheaper and more comfortably. Vehicle ownership will decrease because services will be offered to users via their smartphone. Whilst services through apps can be monetized, users don’t want countless apps from different providers – they will demand a single app with access to all of their mobility solutions.
Companies like Google are well positioned to capitalize on this, since they already provide transportation options through their Maps service. But public transport companies are catching up too and will also offer car sharing, bike sharing, eScooter and even taxi services through a single app.
At present, urban mobility is still very ineffective and frustrating.
Therefore, the potential to relieve pressure on city infrastructures through autonomous vehicles and intelligent-mobility services is gigantic. In Munich today, for example, it is estimated that some 5.3 square kilometers of parking space could be removed and put to better, more citizen-friendly uses.
In future, the combination of various modes of transport will not only be offered as a digital service but will also be reflected in the actual product itself. For instance, Airbus and Audi are combining the advantages of an eVTOL and an autonomous vehicle with their Pop.Up concept. Mercedes Vans, on the other hand, is creating a platform for transporting people and goods via its Vision URBANETIC (see videos).
Whilst new technologies pose significant risks to established businesses, creativity and reflective, holistic thinking can mitigate those risks and provide answers to a number of challenges ahead. The companies that rise to the top will be those that offer excellent products with even better services. The products themselves must work and are therefore the key factor. However, the motivation to constantly use a product will ultimately be determined by the user experience of the service provided.