Fast Moving Future

The automotive sector is fast-moving, with new and exciting innovations continuously on the horizon. So, as we settle into a new year, we’re looking at three areas which various industry sources claim could be the future of transportation.

On your Bike!

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It is looking more likely that the future of transportation will gradually come to rely on electric power. We’re all familiar with the electric car, but what about the electric bike?

The easiest way to describe an e-bike, is a standard bike with a battery and an electric motor added. With most models, the motor starts to work automatically when you start pedalling, giving you ‘assistance’ with an extra power push – particularly helpful if you suffer with joint problems.

The battery can last from 10-100 miles, depending on the make and model; and unlike an electric car, if you run out of power you can still use your own ‘unassisted’ pedal power to continue your journey.

And car companies are starting to take notice of this emerging trend, notably with Ford unveiling a prototype for a folding e-bike called ‘MoDe:Flex’ in 2015, which fits easily into the boot of a car.

Ford said: ‘In many cities, driving your vehicle from home to work is not feasible. MoDe:Flex is Ford’s third, most versatile eBike yet – easily reconfigurable for different customer needs.”

And it’s a subject that’s on the mind of the UK government, which is potentially considering providing subsidies for e-bikes in a bid to get more people cycling. Roads Minister, Jesse Norman, said: “We’ve done some work on that already, and I haven’t looked at the outcomes yet, and they might not be ready yet. There’s a case in principle. In terms of local deliveries, a lot of these Amazon deliveries are lighter things – you don’t need a Transit van to be doing that. I think e-bikes are a really interesting potential way of handling that last mile or two of deliveries.”

This appeared to be reinforced in a report by the Government Office for Science, published in September 2017, where findings from a discussion about the future of mobility highlighted the need to develop e-bikes further to encourage their use, and to consider cycle-share schemes.

Re-booting the Bus

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When was the last time you went on a bus? It’s fair to say that up until now, they haven’t been the most popular option for commuters. But all that could be set to change…

In 2016, Mercedes-Benz unveiled an autonomous bus, which they called the “public transport of the future”. They claimed that their prototype successfully followed a 20km route through Amsterdam, which included bends, tunnels, junctions and traffic lights, without driver intervention.

And ‘future-bus’ fever has already spread to the UK, as in early 2017 members of the British public got the opportunity to try out a prototype shuttle bus on a two-mile route through Greenwich, London. During the trial, the shuttle bus which has five cameras and three lasers to help it navigate, was manned by a trained person on-board.

Graeme Smith, Chief Executive for Oxbotica, the firm who developed the technology, said: “We hope to gain acceptance from members of the public for vehicles sharing this kind of space with them. It’s been designed to be safe and fail-safe specifically in a pedestrianised environment.”

Officials behind the project predict that passengers could begin using the system by 2019 on a trial basis. Industry Minister Nick Hurd said: “The UK has a history of innovation in the auto sector and this type of technology has the potential to save lives as well as offer freedom to the elderly or those with mobility impairments.”

There certainly appears to be plenty of benefits, and if development of this technology continues to progress, it could potentially have a major impact on worldwide traffic problems and the improvement of transport links. Which can only be a good thing, right?

Car Sharing

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According to a report by Bodyshop magazine, we could see significant acceleration in the car sharing market following a few years of slow but steady growth.

As technological advancements continue to make car ownership more expensive and roads become more congested, this is a market that has huge potential to grow and expand.

Car Sharing companies offer their members access to a car or van wherever and whenever it is needed, avoiding the expense or problems associated with ownership. Members simply choose a vehicle listed as available in their local area and collect it.

According to research firm Frost & Sullivan, the number of people using car-sharing companies is expected to increase from around 6 million in 2017 to almost 18 million by 2025.

Niranjan Thiyagarajan, Senior Consultant at Monitor Deloitte, who provide consultancy services to major organisations and governments, said: “Congested cities, with increased traffic and pollution, penalise car ownership while customers are encouraged to use public transport. Car-sharing sits in a niche between the two and is able to offer the comforts of private transport with the flexibility and economies of scale, driven by a sharing model.”

With a relatively low number of main contenders currently in this market, namely ZipCar and DriveNow, this could be the time that other competitors start to emerge in this growing market.

This type of scheme is used predominantly in major cities with major parking restrictions and traffic congestion, but as the number of cars on our roads increase and car ownership costs continue to soar…is it only a matter of time car sharing is considered just a normal way of life?

 

Only time will tell what impact these predictions will have on the future of transportation, but we hope you’ve found them interesting. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be catching a driver-less bus to pick up your car-share vehicle?

 

Sources:

Sourced from www.bodyshopmag.com. (2018). Future of Mobility. Available: http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pubname=&pubid=c01d81ba-a347-4f0a-9ff5-dacfc925f189&pnum=22. Last accessed 15/01/2018.

Birch, S. (2017). Power through your work commute on an electric bike. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/jul/01/electric-bikes-commute-work-e-bike-budget. Last accessed 15/01/2018.

Walker, P & Laker, L. (2017). UK may consider electric vehicle subsidy to increase cycling. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/20/uk-may-consider-electric-vehicle-subsidy-to-increase-cycling. Last accessed 15/01/2018.

Thomas, D. (2017). Driverless shuttle bus to be tested by public in London. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-39495915. Last accessed 15/01/2018.

Gerrard, B. (2017). Is the car sharing industry finally ready to move up a gear? Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/10/15/car-sharing-industry-finally-ready-move-gear/. Last accessed 15/01/2018.

Sourced from www.gov.uk. (2017). Future of mobility: workshop on sustainable transport. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/future-of-mobility-workshop-on-sustainable-transport. Last accessed 15/01/2018.

Bell, L. (2016). Mercedes-Benz’s autonomous ‘Future Bus’ just drove itself across Amsterdam. Available: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/mercedes-benz-unveils-a-self-driving-city-bus. Last accessed 15/01/2018.

Woollaston, V. (2015). Ford unveils its all-terrain electric bike: Folding MoDe:Flex has sat-nav, collision sensors and adapts to roads and mountains. Available: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3137360/Ford-unveils-terrain-electric-bike-Folding-MoDe-Flex-sat-nav-collision-sensors-adapts-roads-mountains.html. Last accessed 15/01/2018.

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