8 technologies that will shape the future of mobility
There are strong indications that the automotive industry will change faster and more dramatically in the coming decade than it has in the whole of the previous century. One day, your future children/grandchildren may ask you things like 'What were pedals for?' and 'What did a petrol station look like?'. If they do, it will be thanks to these eight technological revolutions that have already started.
The ‘Dieselgate’ scandal in 2015 was a wake-up call for the automotive industry and resulted in tighter restrictions on carbon emissions. In turn, this has accelerated the energy transition and boosted the electrification of fleets. Electric vehicles (EVs) and CO2-free alternatives are now well on their way to overtaking ‘analogue’ vehicles powered by fossil fuels.
2. Solid-state batteries
Solid-state batteries are ‘super batteries’ with up to 2.5 more energy capacity and much faster charging than today’s EV batteries. Both science and industry are working hard to get solid-state batteries to an affordable price level – which means that range anxiety, long charging times and high purchase prices for EVs could soon be a thing of the past.
3. Inductive charging
Inductive or ‘wireless’ charging is a cable-free charging solution. Development work is still ongoing to solve the issue of energy ‘leaks’ in the electromagnetic field, since this currently results in a slower charging process than the traditional cable-based approach. However, initial solutions are already available from a number of leading car manufacturers, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Kia.
4. Self-driving cars
Great strides have been made in self-driving cars, with numerous real-life projects underway. However, cloud connectivity alone does not provide self-driving cars with enough stable computing power they need to analyse and safely react to all the data they encounter while out on the road, so a sufficiently high-performance on-board central processing unit (CPU) is required. Besides that, there are numerous other challenges: the demand for more sensors, a 360-degree view at all times, artificial intelligence, satellite navigation and legislation/global standards. Therefore, it is likely to take several years until autonomous vehicles become a reality.
5. V2V and V2I technology
The data required by self-driving cars goes beyond the image data captured by cameras, radar and Lidar. The vehicles also need to be able to communicate with both the infrastructure (a server) and one another in real time to help them anticipate and avoid potential hazards (e.g. traffic congestion/accidents, zones with limited visibility). This vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology optimises comfort and safety during the journey, and is therefore key to the future of autonomous vehicles.
6. Artificial intelligence
When artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are added into the mix, the autonomous vehicle experience will no longer merely revolve around safe transport. Comfort, convenience and entertainment – supported by AI-based connected apps and digital personal assistants – will become important factors too. In fact, although the automotive AI market is still in its infancy, it is expected to be worth almost 11 billion dollars by 2025, with a 109% increase in the installation rate of AI-based systems in new cars.
7. Mobility as a Service (MaaS)
The rise of the sharing economy is a key factor in the rapid growth of Mobility as a Service (MaaS). For example, millennials already seem much less inclined to own a vehicle. It will become increasingly normal for people to choose from a range of mobility solutions such as carpooling, car/bike-sharing services or public transport networks that can all be reserved and paid for using a single app.
Hydrogen has the potential to be a CO2-free fuel for all forms of mobility in the future, from passenger cars to trucks and even ships. Although the lack of refuelling infrastructure is the biggest obstacle right now, the uptake of hydrogen-fuelled cars is growing rapidly and there are plans in place to build more hydrogen refuelling stations in Europe.