This is an amazing time to work in transport. Extraordinary innovation in engineering, technology and business models could fundamentally change how people and goods get around. To respond to these changes, and put the UK at the forefront of the industries driving the innovation, the Government, as part of the Industrial Strategy, launched the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge.
I’d like to pick out a few trends that are already having a big impact:
- The shift from conventional to cleaner vehicles has started and is set to accelerate rapidly. Innovation programmes such as the Faraday Battery Challenge will help deliver this, bringing huge benefits for air quality, energy security and tackling climate change.
- Digital infrastructure is increasingly important for enabling better journeys and network management. People are using smartphones to plan, book and pay for their journeys, and in future vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications could increase the effective capacity of the road network without the significant reshaping of existing physical infrastructure.
- In line with other sectors of the economy we’re witnessing the start of a shift from ownership to access. Car manufacturers are investing heavily in mobility services or partnering with ride-hailing firms in anticipation of a growth in shared economy models and advances in automation.
And it’s happening to the backdrop of a changing society. By 2046 almost 1 in 4 people in the UK will be 65 years and over; increasing numbers of older drivers and more people with dementia using public transport will pose new challenges for the network.
Getting the right response to these changes is fundamental to society as transport affects everyone throughout their lives and is the number one area of household spending in the UK and many other countries. With the potential for safer, cleaner and more efficient transport networks, delivered through innovation, it is crucial that we work with companies to encourage innovation, create new industries and deliver a 21st transport system that works for everyone.
This is no mean feat, and the approach we are taking will evolve and grow over time. Some of the early priorities for the Grand Challenge include:
- Delivering our first Future of Mobility Grand Challenge mission which is to put the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero emission vehicles and for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040. In July we set out our plans to deliver this mission through the Road to Zero Strategy.
- Publishing the Future of Urban Mobility Strategy setting out our plans for responding to emerging technologies and trends in an urban environment.
- Conducting a thorough regulatory review to enable new modes and business models. Having the right regulations in place can help industries and communities thrive, through the regulatory review we will consider how we can establish a flexible and responsive framework for emerging technologies and trends.
Fundamentally, this isn’t a challenge which can be tackled alone. It requires a close working relationship with industry and engagement with the public. To help us deliver the Future of Mobility we have appointed Ian Robertson, former board member at BMW, as our Business Champion. Ian is supported by an Advisory Council with Tracy Westall, Isabel Dedring and Stan Boland. Their role is to help shape, advise and work with Government to create the right environment to deliver a thriving transport sector.
By Ella Taylor, Head of Future of Mobility at CCAV (Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles)