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Smart Mobility – more than just the transformation of an industry

S mart mobility is geared to the needs of the user and offers this high level of comfort, maximum availability, optimum intermodal linking of modes of transport, resource-saving transport and all this at the best price.

This vision clearly shows that when it comes to mobility, we are not only dealing with the digital transformation of the automotive industry, but that our entire society – and thus also all companies – are affected. After all, the issues at stake are energy, infrastructure and, finally, our behaviour. But the goals are also at odds with each other, so that it is the cooperation of all parties that makes this vision a reality.

Recognizing the contribution of mobility to social development

Mobility “moves” us all, in the truest sense of the word. This became particularly clear in the debate on driving bans, speed limits and electric vehicles in recent months in Germany. It is interesting to note that the topic is now seen in a broader context; the first results of the Future of Mobility platform, for example, are primarily concerned with the issue of climate protection and not with new vehicle concepts.

It is clear that mobility must adapt to our new lifestyles and at the same time contribute to overcoming the major problems (e.g. climate change or densification in urban areas). Living habits are the driving force behind one of the most important sectors in Germany – the automotive industry. Many of those responsible in the management floors of automobile companies grew up at a time when their own vehicle was THE status symbol at the age of 18. Today, on the other hand, young customers are more critical of the purchase of their own vehicle. And if a young potential buyer gets lost in a car dealership, the first question is not the performance of the engine, but rather how well the vehicle communicates with its own smartphone.

Digitization enables more flexibility

An essential characteristic of digital change in society is increasing flexibility. Appointments today are often made at short notice by text message, people only buy what they want at that moment and mobility should be available exactly where it is needed. This is also expressed in the vision of smart mobility. Tomorrow’s users no longer want to decide whether to travel a particular route by bicycle or in their own car. The understanding of mobility is developing more and more in the direction of service, away from the claim of the carrier to call his own property.

The development is comparable with music and video services. In the past, you could impress your friends with your own record collection or a closet full of DVDs, but today you would be more likely to be surprised, since millions of songs and films are available to everyone “on demand” at any time via appropriate streaming services.

The constant availability, preferably at a flat rate, replaces the desire for one’s own property. Exactly this development is still to come for the mobility industry.

And yes, there will still be people in the future who love and care for their own vehicle, just as there are still numerous people today who maintain a large record collection as a collector’s item. However, the majority of users will switch to convenient “all-inclusive services” because they are not interested in technology, but only in satisfying their individual mobility needs.

Autonomous mobility tomorrow or the day after tomorrow?

How concrete is the achievement of the vision? A serious answer to this question is not yet possible. Only this much can we say for sure: Many years will pass before a fully autonomous vehicle can be built. The amount of data generated by an autonomous vehicle alone is enormous. More than 6 GB of data per second are generated by an autonomous vehicle and have to be processed. This requires not only computer capacity, but also a stable infrastructure. The key to the mobility of the future is the networking of the various modes of transport so that one day they can communicate and navigate with each other under their own control.

What seems technically feasible today in a structured environment (e.g. motorway in sunshine) is still a long way off for an unstructured situation (country road in snowfall).

However, this should not prevent us from developing the mobility concepts and business models of tomorrow today. Here, too, it is important to focus on the user. The user of the future no longer wants to wait on cold platforms without knowing exactly when a train is expected to arrive, he no longer wants to have to plan the travel chain in different apps, but simply use mobility when and where he needs it.

A rethinking is also necessary in companies

If you have read this far and are not active in the mobility industry, you may well wonder what this means for you and your company. I think a lot! The described change in mobility is necessary and should be supported by all. This also includes promoting cultural change in your company. Is it still appropriate to distribute company cars according to hierarchy? Have you already created the prerequisites for employees to be able to reconcile their mobility needs with other framework conditions? For example, more employees would certainly take their bicycles if they had appropriate changing rooms and shower facilities in the office. Ultimately, the question is how much mobility is ultimately necessary. Does every meeting really have to be a personal meeting or could it also be held by telephone or video? Should the employees really sit every day at their own desk in the office or is there also the possibility to realize mobile work? All these points affect the corporate culture and consequently also lead to new mobility behaviour of the employees around the job, which ultimately continues to make up a large part of our mobility performance.

Where do you start tomorrow?

The change in mobility behavior is already in full swing, users are increasingly placing completely new demands on mobility, and the contribution of mobility to climate change, for example, is undisputed. As a company, set a positive example that you support this change. There are many points that can easily be realized, here is a small selection:

  • In future, invite people to video conferences instead of personal meetings and save them business trips.
  • Make the most of the possibilities for mobile work in your company.
  • Take advantage of the opportunity to purchase company bicycles for your employees instead of company cars to help them get to work.
  • Organise e-charging stations for free charging of vehicles for your employees with your regional energy service provider.

And most importantly, use the new opportunities to increase the attractiveness as an employer, mobility is after all one of the most important framework conditions in coping with our everyday lives!