What we learnt at #FutureMobility22
Last week, over 150 leaders from the UK’s transport and digital technology sectors gathered, both in-person and online, to discuss what we need to achieve an integrated, interoperable and digitally enabled transport system which is fit for the future.
Across multiple sessions, each examining a different theme, we heard how enabling technologies are transforming mobility, the ways in which enhanced connectivity can improve transport and how we should be thinking about what is coming tomorrow. The recordings and key takeaways from the sessions are available below.
The innovation is in interoperability
Our first panel titled examining the role of emerging technologies was perhaps best summed up by the comments of Mike Nugent, Head of Head of Fleet Strategy and Fleet Business Incubation, at Hitachi Europe. Mike told the room that the innovation is not necessary in the technology as we already have some great solutions, the innovation is about how you bring that all together and then how you underpin that with a commercial model that can drive economies of scale.
The that was echoed by our panel with James Comley, Senior Transport Consultant at CGI adding that we have a challenge in unlocking data contained within proprietary systems and making that accessible within the wider transport network.
On the regulation front, Ben Loewenstein, Senior Public Policy Manager at Waymo – Alphabet’s AV business, pointed out that the challenge in the AV market is legislating for the technology to operate in the first place. There were also some encouraging thoughts from James Kellett, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Spot Ship, a business applying AI models to shipbroking, that the Government sees the application of digital technology at the heart of its Clean Maritime Plan and decarbonising an industry which is traditionally slower to adapt.
The future of flight is slow
This was the key message from Tom Grundy, CEO of Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) who delivered a lunchtime presentation. HAV’s aircraft, Airlander 10, fills a gap in the market for low carbon, low speed, regional flight.
The aviation sector is not short of innovation with a proliferation of new solutions from electric flying taxis to hybrid aircraft and sustainable aviation fuels. However, a gap still exists for medium payload aircraft, that can create new regional routes and that integrate with existing transport systems.
This is a gap HAV is hoping to fill with their aircraft which can land virtually anywhere and deliver a completely new mode of transportation in the UK. We look forward to seeing Airlander ‘taking off’ in the UK very soon.
We need to break silos to achieve world class connectivity
The second panel session of the day looked at the role connectivity systems play in delivering better outcomes for transport.
Currently transport networks, especially our railways, remain one of the largest “not spots” when it comes to connectivity. Jamie Potter, Account Director for Telecoms at Network Rail, admitted that needs to change.
For Alfonso Alvarez, Deputy Managing Director of Cellnex UK, regulation is key to achieving this. That means, increasing the obligation on mobile operators to cover railways will help deliver the outcomes passengers and network operators expect.
A similar call to action was given by Andrew Conway, Director of Solutions, Innovation and Technology at BAI Communications that we need to encourage government, both nationally and locally, to explore the value in working with neutral hosts to deliver connectivity.
However, none of this can be achieved if we do not break the silos, according to Jamie. That means ensuring rail operators, Great British Railways and telecoms providers are working in partnership, while also exploring the opportunities to bring the railways closer to other transport networks to achieve a multi modal system.
Creating better frameworks to meet our future needs
The final session of the day looked at what we need to deliver tomorrow’s mobility. Set within an energy crisis, the need to decarbonise faster and a COVID recovery, we heard that achieving these outcomes will require a need for better frameworks.
Georgia Yexley, General Manager UKI at TIER Mobility, explained that these frameworks need to take a long-term vision for decarbonising transport, with policies in place to help us get there. These should be based on not just risk aversion, but on delivering the benefits of micro mobility and low carbon options.
For Rebecca Jeffrey, Electrification Lead at Uber, this is also about dealing with challenges both on a global scale and also a local one. One of the ways we can do that is though making the sustainable choice a feasible one through offering the best services at a cost that doesn’t restrict people from making better decisions.
That was something which can be applied to the railways as well according to George Robinson, Head of UK Government Relations at The Trainline. For George, public transport is an inherently more sustainable choice which supports environmental goals and also delivers benefits to communities. That means we need to see a public transport led recovery from COVID if we are to meet our environmental goals and wider ambitions.
Frameworks are also important to National Highways commented Dr Joanna White, Acting Divisional Roads Director. The network needs to be agile if it is to manage the adoption of new technologies such as AVs resulting in mixed fleets and also can meets its own targets of road user decarbonization by 2050.
Get involved with our work
The Future of Mobility Conference unpacked many critical areas to explore further if we are to deliver a truly integrated and digitally enabled transport system.
If you would like to know more about techUK supports transport and technology businesses to innovate, overcome barriers and grow their businesses and would like more information on the Intelligent Mobility and Transport Working Group then please do also get in touch.
To read all insights from our Future of Mobility Campaign Week check out the webpage here.
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Ashley Feldman is the programme manager for transport and smart cities, at techUK.
Ashley joined techUK in 2022 having worked in the public policy and communications industry for four years. He specialised in advising businesses in the infrastructure, built environment and transport sectors on a wide range of issues including stakeholder engagement and corporate reputation management.
Ashley obtained a masters degree in Urbanisation and Development studies at the London School of Economics.
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