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Eight smart mobility trends to watch

Technology adoption in the transportation industry has been rising for years, but the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic is leading to an even bigger push for smart mobility solutions.

What transportation trends should you watch out for? Everything from automated vehicles to smart cities will continue evolving, and staying ahead of the curve might be the difference between innovation and stagnation.

Here are eight smart mobility trends to keep an eye on:

Shared mobility takes the wheel

You don’t need to be a sustainability expert to know there are too many cars on the global road. According to RFIDTires, there are around 1.42 billion cars in operation around the world, and despite the best efforts to reduce carbon emissions and build electric vehicles, a whopping 98% of cars today still run on gasoline or diesel.

Shared mobility will not do all of the work, but this relatively simple smart mobility solution is an easy way for people to lessen the negative impact on the planet. Ridesharing is fast becoming the norm. People worldwide use apps such as Uber, CarGo, Lyft, and BlaBla Car. According to a BuildFire projection, 540 million people globally use ridesharing apps of some kind (18% of all smartphone users).

Whether it is for the commute to the office or longer trips from city to city, more people are sharing the transportation load. Until energy-efficient vehicles become the majority, shared mobility will be a popular mode of transportation.

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) on the rise

Urban mobility services such as bicycle and vehicle rentals and ridesharing apps are quickly becoming necessary. As a result, more companies are investing in Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS).

MaaS platforms include transportation options such as buses, trains, ridesharing and peer-to-peer rental services, and micro-mobility options such as electric scooters and bicycles. MaaS allows users to schedule and pay for transportation services through one digital channel.

Big data has helped MaaS platforms flourish as new forms of transport management software enhance the user’s experience, from purchasing tickets to the journey itself.

Time will tell if consumers choose MaaS solutions over owning their own cars. However, the benefits of on-demand transport and energy efficiency will be difficult to ignore as MaaS continues to improve the process of finding and paying for transportation.

More AI use in transportation and smart mobility

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools sift through mountains of transportation data to help smart mobility companies find insights that improve public transport and streamline traffic. AI’s ability to find that “needle in a haystack” is one of the most exciting smart mobility trends.

AI is also proving to be an invaluable tool for those outside vehicles by improving pedestrian safety through computer vision and video analytics. When used as a central part of transport management software, AI-powered technology can minimize the risks of careless driving and make public areas safer.

Open mobility and the harnessing of data

What are the benefits of using open-source technology for smart mobility?

First, the entire nature of open-source software allows for greater collaboration and mixing of ideas, bringing together inventive minds that previously worked independently. This is a ticket to innovation and development, encouraging forward-thinking developers to feed off each other across an open platform, leading to more convenient and sustainable transportation options for the consumer.

The modern world’s increasing acceptance of big data will also influence smart mobility trends in 2021. Companies will look to act on insights gathered from data about the needs and wants of consumers who use the international transport system. Put bluntly, there is no development without harnessing data first.

Contactless payments and smart mobility

The move from cash to contactless has been taking place slowly for years as consumers learn to trust technology.

Then came COVID. The pandemic changed how we pay for transportation as the convenience and safety of contactless forms of payment finally hit home. During the pandemic, 79% of MasterCard users around the world used contactless payment, while 51% of US users began putting more faith in mobile wallets like Apple Pay. Contactless payments in Germany jumped from 35% to 50%.

Cities around the world have implemented smart mobility networks for use in their metros, trains, and bus lines. Consumers access services through a single contactless card, and contactless payments are expected to become an international norm.

Autonomous vehicles gather speed

Carmakers have conducted experiments on autonomous vehicles since the advent of the car, yet only recently has the idea of a vehicle that drives itself gained mainstream attention.

Does that mean we are on the verge of a world where people no longer drive their cars? Far from it. However, autonomous vehicles are becoming very real products. Honda just took the brave step of leasing limited edition sedans equipped with state-of-the-art automated driving equipment. While this does not go all the way with total autonomy, it allows drivers to take their eyes off the road occasionally.

If there is one thing to learn from past smart mobility trends, it is that it only takes a spark to revolutionize an entire industry. Honda is the first in a long line of international automakers to make their mark on the automated vehicle industry. Building a self-driving car worthy of history has proved harder than many thought, but it’s a technology movement that will only keep growing.

Electric vehicles go mainstream

Fully automated vehicles may still be out of reach for major manufacturers, but electric cars are now part of the mainstream. It’s no longer surprising to see electric-charging stations in remote outposts. In the UK alone, the number of charging points has skyrocketed from 5,000 in 2016 to 25,000 today, with new points added daily.

While petrol and diesel cars still greatly outnumber electric cars, the demand for electric cars is growing all the time. More drivers are looking to stay ahead of the curve while reducing their carbon footprint, and electric vehicles have made this achievable.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused car sales to drop dramatically, with global sales down 20-25%. It remains to be seen if this will cause any long-term damage to the electric vehicle industry. But changing government policy and consumer behavior in the wake of the pandemic are likely to put the spotlight on the importance of sustainable mobility and electric cars.

Implementing smart mobility within cities

How will cities deploy smart mobility solutions, and will they be successful?

The dream of a smart city is still just a dream for most cities around the world. This is because modern cities have approached the concept as a sleek slogan to fit how they want to view themselves. However, we are at the point now where cities are taking the “smart city” concept seriously.

Smart mobility is an integral part of the smart city concept. Rapid urbanization and a growing population are complex challenges that make embracing smart mobility software a must.

It’s become ever more important to move people through a city efficiently while transporting goods smoothly and developing an infrastructure that makes it easy to implement digital solutions. The chaos of 2020 has given way to a growing interest in innovation, and the development of smart mobility in cities could be the most-discussed technology trend of 2021.

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