Four use cases for an overarching vision
The Future of Mobility
When technologies become more and more advanced we see a shift from the amazement of the capabilities of technology to how this can serve as an enablement for solving problems, creating and capturing value. From an engineering point of view we often see a tendency to use technology to optimize current systems or processes. This not necessarily enhances the user experience nor aligns with what people and organizations are looking for. If we can broaden the perspective and provide more context to the application possibilities we can on a strategic level assess how digital tools, advanced technologies and new ways of working can create the most value in respect to the effort it needs to create change. We have chosen four explanatory use cases to help you understand how these principles might be helpful and could be applied.
Maarten Oonk - 19 December 2016
In our previous blog, we showed that the mobility domain is still scattered with, modality oriented, offerings. The ability to create new information enabled value on top of dominantly physical based products and services by truly connecting the end-user via digital channels will enable a broad spectrum of stakeholders to stay relevant in this shifting business landscape. In this second article we will show some perspectives to a user centric journey of the future.
1. Autonomous vehicles: From charming but not relevant, to the next big thing
Driverless cars or Autonomous vehicles (AV) for a long time have been seen as the final stage of a long and difficult journey of automation. Started as intelligent transport systems where vehicle and infrastructure connected to share information for higher level of control and flow management, it slowly shifted towards intelligent and connected vehicles and finally the common rationale became automation of vehicles. This automation was categorized in degrees or levels of automation, with autonomous driving being the highest level to be achieved evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Until Google leap frogged this and started to design and develop the sensor systems necessary to create the Google car. At the start in 2007, it was small, charming but totally irrelevant as a commercial product to most of the incumbent car OEM’s. With an estimated costs of over 200K USD for just the sensor systems, rationally this made sense. But over the years, these costs dropped exponentially and only two years ago reached a critical threshold for a simple lidar (combination of laser and radar). At the Vegas CES in 2014 all major OEMs showed their autonomous vehicle and with that a revolution was initiated. Other stakeholders jumped on the bandwagon, like Singapore announcing to be the first country and city to have fully autonomous vehicles driving commercially by the end of 2016. It seems the drivers are both technologically and commercially driven with an aim to showcase this. With this broader spectrum of stakeholders, and especially public authorities, cities and platform companies like Uber involved, we should be able to see the first real user centric applications shortly. Let’s start with automated valet parking and last mile transport to solve some major annoyances in our urban areas and where the end-user needs to be in the loop in order to create commercial uptake. This can initially be small in scale, but if smartly designed, it can set great things in motion.
2. Private public transport
Although this article takes a user centric approach, the whole development of automation in mobility and the build environment alike, creates huge new opportunities and requires a strong mind shift at the same time. One of the views is that we are moving toward personal public transport, where we do not own cars anymore, but can choose from a wide variety of fully autonomous vehicles to be used individually or in a sharing concept all with its own price tag. Transport might be requested on a need-to-meet basis only with more and more digital alternatives available. This might make traditional public busses superfluous and changes the whole ecosystem. In addition, our current build environment and city designs might not suit new needs and demand. With most objects built and designed for at least 25 years, one should be looking for more adaptable spaces and infrastructures using new materials, additive manufacturing and generative design to exponentially reduce sunk costs. We might need AV corridors connecting smart hubs in urban areas, dedicated lanes in more densely populated areas, less parking lots but more pick-up space on the boardwalk. One thing is for sure, there is no certainty. In the end more and more is determined by what the end-user is demanding, how disruptors are creating new notions of value for the providers as well as the customers and how exponential technologies are enabling us to move beyond our current understanding. The main stakeholders in the build environment should think now and start experimenting with new more adaptable spaces in order to find out how new forms of mobility might be facilitated and accompanied based on user experiences.
3. From smart city to smart areas: the Dutch perspective
If we try to broaden our perspective to the future build environment we need to go well beyond the city boundaries. Compared to Paris, London or Shanghai the Dutch equivalent is the “Randstad” region with their three main ports – Schiphol airport, Port of Rotterdam and Amsterdam digiport. That should be the focus of the smart city and within that smart mobility as an enabler of the attractiveness of the region for economic growth and intensified economic activity. But for this again the end user should be the starting point. He or she demands more integrated, more seamless and fully digital services to live, work, socialize, relax and travel. Integrated in a way that we see more platforms being introduced like WeChat and seamless digital in a way that Internet of Things (IoT) or Internet of Everything (IoE) are closing the information loop where end customers are becoming the designers of the future. That means that emerging mobility solutions like driverless cars, and mobility as a service (MaaS) need a more holistic framework where connection is made with smart homes-, and infrastructures. This is where we already see car sharing platforms like Uber starting experiments with food and parcel delivery.
4. Chatbots and the future of AI
With the increased performance and availability of artificial intelligence, the rise of intelligent assistants – chatbots – show great potential in creating a seamless customer experience. Chatbots are already a powerful tool and can handle a vast share of the direct communication with the customer through common social channels like Facebook and WhatsApp. Natural Language Processing (NLP) is advancing quickly and can extract the relevant pieces of information, like date, direction of travel, city of departure, time constraints and can adjust suggestions accordingly. But these kinds of automation can also democratize and demonetize the mobility system. From something as simple as a parking ticket to voice based interaction with your mode of transport directly or indirectly via your mobile device. DoNotPay, a company run by a 19 year old, developed a lawyer chatbot, which already has shown to be capable to overturn 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York. NLP is developing into areas where Man-Machine-Interaction becomes fully automated and developed beyond a one-way channel. These examples show that automating consumer engagement is within reach and is just beginning to show its potential. Combining artificial intelligence, access to open data and augmented reality will create situational awareness and provide us with real-time, and proactive advice and service to better align our daily agenda and minimize unnecessary travel and waiting times.
The bottom line is that most current solutions do not close the loop form a digital perspective. We as end-user have very limited opportunity to provide feedback let alone co-create new solutions that fit our needs. Data is being produced at exponential rate enabling companies that can activate that date to create customer engagement at two levels:
- The indirect level by monitoring and influencing behavioural patterns by providing context relevant alternatives to current behaviour;
- The direct level by asking and thus creating an inclusive relationship where end-users craft the new solutions and are by that engaged and empowered.
Companies that will own the platform where this data is being activated and valued can really start shaping this new reality.