Intelligent mobility

Intelligent Mobility is a new way of thinking about how to use technology and data to connect people, places and goods across all transport modes. The articles below are a collection of thought leadership and opinion pieces from the specialists at Atkins.

iM hub

To find out more about intelligent mobility from Atkins, visit our hub


There has since been an unprecedented interest in this emerging market with the establishment of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and a steady stream of government funding to support R&D. Today, there are over 30 projects co-funded by UK government, undertaking feasibility studies, trials and testing of CAVs.

This pattern is repeated across the globe with countries such as the USA, Dubai, Singapore and China, investing heavily in this market.

For many people, there is often an assumption that when driverless cars are on the network all vehicles will be fully autonomous. This is known as Level 5 (SAE). However, for those working in the industry there is still a level of uncertainty around reaching Level 5 and how to address some of the key issues surrounding Levels 3 and 4 of autonomy. At these levels, transfer of control between the vehicle and the human driver (known as the handover process) would be required as the vehicle will not be fully autonomous.

Understanding the handover process is important from a safety, traffic management, technology, and legal and insurance perspective. For example, the length of time it takes someone to regain full control of the vehicle, represents a meaningful risk to insurers. Importantly, understanding when control is transferred between the vehicle and driver has liability implications.

To date, research on handover has focused on more experienced drivers, at high speeds and involving single handover requests. This is not necessarily typical of the day to day driving experience in urban areas. Therefore, VENTURER decided to undertake its first set of experiments with a focus on:

  • Drivers with varying levels of experience;
  • Lower speeds (20, 30, 40 and 50 mph) typical of an urban environment; 
  • Driving simulator and road experiments; and 
  • Shorter driving periods with multiple handover requests.

This first trial sought to gain a deeper understanding of:

  • How long it took participants to engage with the driving controls (steering wheel, brake, and accelerator) after a handover request;
  • Whether typical manual driving performance is achieved after handover;
  • At what time during the handover period is typical manual driving performance achieved; and
  • For how long does the driver maintain typical manual driving performance during the handover period?

The findings indicate that without a structured process there could be safety implications associated with transferring control from the autonomous system to manual driving at the speeds tested (20, 30, 40 and 50mph). Depending on the speed of the vehicle, it could have travelled a considerable distance before the driver has regained typical driving performance and full control of the vehicle. Although, the trial focused on planned handover, if these findings were translated into a situation where emergency handover is required, there could be further safety implications. This needs further exploration, and must consider factors such as how long the driver has been inactive, vehicle speed and road conditions.

There are also potential implications for highway network performance. VENTURER Trial 1 results revealed that the vehicle slowed during and after the handover process. This could result in a bunching effect on the network if handover is required at specific locations and vehicles (either manually driven or in autonomous mode) slow down to respond to this event. This could create a shockwave effect across the network, contributing to delays and congestion.

To mitigate these issues, a structured handover process must be developed. Should it be considered by industry and regulators that autonomous systems which require human input (such as handover) are not desirable, the focus would very much be on developing fully autonomous vehicles (Level 5).

Whilst driverless cars have the potential to realise safety benefits and improve mobility for all, there are possible implications that must be considered. Amongst these, is the potential for increased consumer demand which could have a knock-on effect on highway network capacity. This may present a challenge in urban areas where the highway network may already be at or approaching capacity. There may also be adverse consequences for wider policy areas, such as the promotion of active travel initiatives that support general health and well-being.

VENTURER continues to inform the future direction of CAV development by creating a greater understanding of the potential opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. For further information on the project and to read the full report, click here

[1] Automated Driving, Levels of Driving Automation are defined in new SAE International Standard J3016,

UK & Europe,

This summit, hosted jointly by Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and WRA on April 6, saw presentations and contributions from Singapore, Austria, Australia, Sweden and several speakers from the USA. We are proud to have had two speakers at the summit: I set out the key international trends and challenges for CAVs from a public policy and regulatory perspective, as well as covering the implications for future highway and urban planning and design. Suzanne Murtha, senior project director from Atkins in North America, gave a focused US analysis. 

Out of the summit came some great viewpoints and plans across national boundaries, many specific and set within the local context. However, there was a remarkable degree of consensus and understanding of common issues. Here, in no particular order, are our top ten takeaways emerging across the countries represented.

  1. Widespread AV (Automated Vehicle) adoption as societal level is someway off, well into the 2020s or beyond, but preparation and planning for this prospect needs to start now, with governments leading, rather than avoiding or ignoring, the debate, especially as Connected Vehicles of varying types are currently being deployed;
  2. Governments and transport agencies need to identify and meet the substantial technical, regulatory and practical challenges in the short- and medium-term to reap the major economic, social and environmental benefits in the long-term, and strike a balance between immediate public safety, technology and innovation and private sector initiative;
  3. Much as manufacturers and developers may want a free hand, the speed of CAV development and adoption will be dictated as much by policies, laws and regulations set by government as it is by technology from industry. This includes setting proportionate, open or inter-operable technical standards and regulations which align across national boundaries and give confidence and incentive to industry to develop a range of commercial products and services;
  4. The pathways for connected infrastructure and autonomous vehicles are on different timelines, stakeholder relationships and delivery chains, with a “chicken and egg” problem for which comes first and how they interact.  If CVs are mandated, AVs will be a part of that, thereby forcing early integration of the two technology sets;
  5. The immediate focus now, and for the next few years, is on testing, demonstration, validation and deploying of CAV technology. This is vital to provide the safety case, volume of data and operating experience of vehicles and systems to assure regulators they are safe, resilient and viable for wider deployment and adoption;
  6. There is a major challenge of the transition period between manual driving by humans and fully automated vehicle operation at the societal level. Not only is the length and shape of this transition inherently uncertain, but there are major issues for how mixed traffic scenarios between manual vehicles and AVs will be managed safely and efficiently;
  7. Whilst it can be assumed that CAVs will use highway capacity more efficiently, safely and accurately, the point at which this may result in changes to physical highway design, layout and management principles, and what these changes might look like, are major areas for future research;
  8. The full benefits of CAVs in terms of reducing traffic volumes, congestion, emissions and accidents may only occur when the technology is combined with other concepts such as electrification and a shift in business model from private ownership to shared use of centrally managed fleets. The latter, in particular, will play out differently across countries and the presence, or otherwise, of a “driving culture” whereby vehicle ownership and manual operation is seen as a right rather than a utility;
  9. Governments, vehicle manufacturers, technology companies and academia will need to forge new partnerships to drive the CAV agenda forward, bringing different roles, skills sets, interests and activities together and forging active collaboration; and
  10. Ultimately, CAVs are more than a transport project. They will shape the long-term future of the spatial planning and urban form of cities and regions. Planners, architects, city managers and developers need to engage with the debate.  

One further point struck me from the discussions. CAVs are currently very much an agenda for advanced economies. Yet WRA includes member countries which are still developing in their stage of economic and social status. It is therefore important to consider new vehicle concepts, for example in Africa and Asia, which may improve road safety in particular from a more basic and appropriate technology perspective.

Rhode Island was a great forum for current thinking on the development and deployment of CAVs, a point acknowledged by RIDOT’s director in thanking “the greatest minds from across the world” for their contributions. The discussions will directly help RIDOT in developing its future CAV strategy and deployment plan, and linking this to wider spatial planning and economic development opportunities for the State.  

Furthermore, through WRA, the intention is to push the CAV agenda forward and drive further thought leadership at the World Road Congress in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

Jonathan Spear, director, strategic transport, Atkins Acuity, Singapore

Suzanne Murtha, senior project director, Atkins, Washington DC, North America

Note: Atkins is a corporate member of the World Road Association and nominates a number of technical experts to participate in Technical Committees on a four year cycle leading to a World Road Congress. Jonathan Spear is chair of a working group within Technical Committee A1 on the performance of transport administrations. The April 2017 TC meeting was hosted by RIDOT in the city of Providence and the CAV summit was conceived as an associate event bringing together TC members from several countries with local consultants and public agencies from the USA.  

To find out more about intelligent mobility from Atkins, visit our hub and join our LinkedIn group.

Asia Pacific, North America,

This NPRM is US DOT’s effort at solving the 20-year-old chicken and egg problem. Who deploys first? Why would the IOO (Infrastructure Owners and Operators) invest in infrastructure to support communications if no vehicles have it?

Now, the vehicles will have it.

The rule requires that, beginning two years after issuance of a final rule, DSRC would be phased in over the following three years, at rates of 50 percent, 75 percent and 100 percent, respectively. According to NHTSA estimates, with this requirement in place, around 2040 we’ll have DSRC installed in 90 percent of new vehicles. Independent analysis of the market penetration agrees with the NPRM analysis.

If that news weren’t exciting enough, we now see not only GM announcing DSRC-based equipment in the CTS (announced September 2014), but now also in the 2018 XTS and ATS. Insiders tell us that several other automotive manufacturers are close behind with DSRC announcements.

While the NPRM does a detailed analysis of potential back office management of connected vehicle systems, as well as a highly detailed explanation of privacy and security (the document is nearly 400 pages long), NHTSA’s purview is somewhat limited with regard to the aftermarket. NHTSA can only require DSRC on new vehicles and this opens an opportunity, too, for IOO to encourage aftermarket adoption of DSRC on existing vehicles at a local level as well as deploy supporting infrastructure at a pace that makes sense for them.

Enter the egg.

Infrastructure Owners and Operators
To support the deployment of DSRC-based equipment to improve safety and mobility, US DOT also invested in three major deployments in New York City, Wyoming and Tampa. Recent US DOT fact sheets about the deployments list over 500 DSRC roadside units being deployed to support nearly 10,000 DSRC On Board Units (OBU).

The V2I Deployment Coalition has recently issued the DSRC 20x20 SPaT Challenge. Infrastructure influencers AASHTO, ITS America and ITE have teamed up with US DOT’s FHWA to encourage—challenge—IOOs across the country to install DSRC-based equipment at 20 intersections by 2020. Many cities, regions and states are jumping on this opportunity. In addition to the hundreds of existing DSRC installations, dozens of other IOOs will be deploying DSRC in the coming months.

Now, the infrastructure will have it. 

The momentum behind the DSRC continues to be remarkable. There are nearly 70 comments in the proposed rule as of today, final comments are due April 12. As of today, the bulk of these comments are specifically related to concerns about radio frequency and health. While a few comments concern other types of radio communication, the bulk of the comments are supportive and many more supportive comments are expected in the coming days.

The automotive manufacturers (OEMs) have asked the new administration for rollback of several regulations including CAFE requirements and automated vehicle policy. However, the OEMs have not asked for consideration of the DSRC NPRM and have continued full steam ahead with work to further develop DSRC-based communications. I suspect we’ll be able to view the specifically supportive comments on the NHTSA docket in the coming weeks.

So What?

  • Respond to NHTSA! You have until April 12 to tell US DOT your agency’s thoughts about vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communications using DSRC.
  • As an IOO, the advent of DSRC means that you will have access to specific vehicle data, at an increasing rate beginning now.
  • If you would like to increase your access to this data, deploy DSRC equipment at a pace that makes sense for your agency.
  • As an IOO, you are not under a mandate to deploy anything.  Deploy at your pace, prioritizing locations that could enhance safety or need the most attention.
  • Incrementally learn how to manage CV data and deploy within the CVRIA (US DOT Connected Vehicle Reference Implementation Architecture).


North America,

That mission is to achieve intelligent mobility in urban transportation, not merely as a theoretical technical and design concept, or as a set of web-enabled travel applications, but to instil it at the heart of the national consciousness.

This is a lofty claim, but there are two recent examples to back it up.  

The first example, the 2016 National Day Parade, featured a view of what Singapore will look like when it celebrates 100 years of independence in 2065; a sky city where individuals and families will be able to access a wealth of travel choices from their connected household or personal devices, and be taken on-demand by driverless pods to wherever they want to go, whenever they want to go there, on roads which are free-flowing and without congestion.

The second example, this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations featured the usual dazzling lantern displays down by the marina. It was dominated, of course, by a massive illuminated rooster (this year’s zodiac sign), but also prominent was an unmissable Smart Nation display and within this two life-sized mock ups of the Gemini, a prototype autonomous electric capsule produced by TUM-CREATE, a technical research centre at the National University of Singapore.

These two examples are interesting because they are not aimed at the usual urban or transportation professionals, or at technology researchers, concerned with the planning or design of infrastructure.  Nor are they part of the numerous autonomous vehicle testing taking place under the auspices of the Singapore Autonomous Vehicle Initiative (SAVI). Rather, they are pitched to the general public, residents and visitors, and with a clear message: we can see the future of mobility, it is intelligent, connected, automated …. and it works.

So that can we actually expect from Singapore in intelligent mobility when it reaches its first century, a little under 50 years from now, not only as a vision, but how it relates to infrastructure and the planning, design and operation of the public realm?

Here are my views: like the Jetsons in 1962, deliberately visionary, perhaps provocative and unconstrained by the real technical, social and economic practicalities of getting there, but a big picture to kick-start the debate.

Will everyone actually use autonomous vehicles?

Yes, almost certainly, and driverless transport will come in all shapes and sizes, service configurations, user tastes and value-added services.  It will also be electric, powered by hydrogen fuel-cells and other renewable sources, connected to the Internet of Things, and linked up to the smart grid and other technologies designed to limit energy intensity and carbon footprint to the absolute minimum.

Will people really use a single personal application and account on their personal device to access, compare and buy multi-modal travel options easily and intuitively?

Absolutely, and the current public transport smartcards and journey planning apps may evolve into a single iTravel online store offering hundreds of blended travel products for a monthly fee, tailored to individual needs and topped up on demand. This will be able to advise and adapt when the transport network is disrupted or conditions change in real-time.   

Will rich data on transport infrastructure, network condition and asset availability, be universally collated, managed and disseminated via open platforms to inform people, and assist and nudge their journey experience, as they move around the city each day?

Definitely: And this data will also enable city managers (perhaps Google and Apple rather than, or in partnership with, BMW or Hyundai) to run infrastructure and vehicles more efficiently, reliably and sustainably, and deploy the right resources at different times and circumstances. Linking with other smart city systems and services, there will also be clear rules and operating practices which will regulate the governance, flow and integrity of this data in real-time, like the human brain regulates blood and nutrients as it flows through the living body.

The really exciting part of all this is how everything will join up. Infrastructure. Autonomy. Information. Pricing. Choice. Data. Energy. Service. Citizenship. All this will combine to deliver an integrated, reliable and intuitive user experience with simultaneously informs network managers and supports a liveable, sustainable and attractive city. And perhaps iTravel, or a similar concept, really could emerge as the brand, product and app store that encapsulates it, disrupts and changes everything.  

What does this mean for transport and urban planning and design in Singapore?

In Singapore, a small island state at the tip of Asia where space is scarce, this vision has a clear focus. Intelligent mobility in all its combinations, will drive a sharp reduction in private car ownership – and all the negative social and environmental impacts that go with it. With technology causing the barriers between cars, public transport and forms of personal mobility to shatter, owning a physical asset which costs tens of thousands of dollars and spends 95% of its time parked at home or at the office will be illogical and pointless. In 2065, the convenience of flexible personal travel on demand by multiple means will be available to just about everyone, without a private ownership model, at a level of service they want for a price which all can afford.

As part and parcel of this, in my opinion, transport infrastructure will be smaller and smarter, freeing up land for other uses and a greener and more inclusive public realm. Transport operators will be able to create more integrated service offers and products focused on the user and generating sustainable revenue streams to fund investment and make commercial returns.

It is even conceivable that by the time Singapore turns 100 the government may have banned manual driving altogether, and removed the right (or the privilege) of having a personal driving license. Or more likely, safety regulations, insurance premiums and market forces, with a slight push from government regulation, will just make driving so prohibitively expensive that very few will want and afford to do it, just like, as Elon Musk has said, owning a race horse or holding a private flying license.

I don’t currently own a car in Singapore. And I have no need and intention of doing so. Public transport is first class and taxis and ride brokers like Grab or Uber provide easy access when the trains and buses can’t get me there. Personal mobility in Singapore is tremendous in 2017. But I look forward immensely to seeing how the transport system will improve further in future years and how intelligent mobility will progressively reshape my life and the lives of those around me. After all, intelligent mobility is ultimately about people rather than robots.

This will happen elsewhere, of course, but with enablers such as government leadership, supportive businesses and a tech-savvy public, expect a few visionary cities, like Singapore, to lead the way, and transform their urban infrastructure and built environment as a result. 

Singapore has an unashamed big vision for transport at 100 – big commitments, big actions and big results will be needed to secure that vision and ensure it benefits everyone. We will need to think creatively around making concepts real, combine function with physical design and efficient operation, focus on user needs and craft viable delivery models to make a future that works. At Atkins we must gear up now to see how we can help in that process. 

To find out more about intelligent mobility from Atkins, visit our hub and join our LinkedIn group.

Asia Pacific,

Part of the North’s current and future attractiveness, to live, work, visit and invest, lies within is its connectivity and mobility network. However, the existing transport network is complex: an interlinked set of travel modes, routes and technologies, underpinned by a broad range of commercial contracts and structures.

This matters, as a key characteristic of an effective and attractive region is its physical and digital connectivity, both between and within cities, regions and towns.  As the North continues to grow, pressures on its network, also grow.

To increase connectivity on a constrained network, we need to think and act differently.  This is where intelligent mobility – the connection of people, places and services through reimagined infrastructure across all transport modes and enabled by data, technology and innovative ideas – can revolutionise how we approach these challenges.

One intelligent mobility approach is known as Mobility as a Service (MaaS). 

MaaS encourages people to think about their journeys in the whole context of getting from A to B, rather than as a series of constituent parts.  It is tailor-made around their individual needs and preferences. For example, users can pay for multi-modal journeys with a single account, pay per trip or via a monthly subscription to cover end-to-end, integrated journeys making the most of all travel modes such as rail to bike, park and ride, bus and walking.

The development of a seamless MaaS offering can deliver greater network efficiencies and tackle existing transport challenges by:

  • positively changing the behaviours of commuters to address challenges such as urbanisation, population growth and expanding towns and cities
  • reducing congestion and journey times, improving health and wellbeing from safer travel and reducing noise and pollution exposure.
  • improving strategic insight and aiding decision-making so the transport network can meet customer needs and changing preferences and behaviours.

These digitally and commercially enabled approaches (such as MaaS) require us to be organised and to operate differently in the future, using our existing physical infrastructure in new, and in some cases, unprecedented ways.

The publication of the Vehicle, Technology and Aviation Bill includes key measures to support the next generation of transport in the UK, providing a real opportunity for the regional transport strategy for the North to respond.

By planning for both incremental and transformative change and progress, the region can plan to unlock digital capability and innovations alongside its existing physical and commercial infrastructure.

The North has the scale, vision, ambition and capability to lead the UK in an improved intelligent mobility network – to drive and attract economic activity and retain its attractiveness as a great place to live, work and invest – moving from delivering transport, to improving mobility for all.

UK & Europe,

Data is valuable, it’s the new currency. In many sectors, including transport, it becomes invaluable when it is gathered, analysed and transformed into operational and business intelligence. And now there is a great potential for doing so in real-time, offering even bigger opportunities for the travel experience. It’s how we use data that will inform and influence the design of our future cities.

We have released a white paper that considers how we can use insights from big data to influence strategic decision-making and user behaviour.

As well as adding extra network capacity and delivering a better customer experience, big data presents an incredible opportunity to influence people’s behaviour, offering travellers with smarter and more sustainable transport choices.

For example, in a world of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), we can gather data that will inform us about the condition of the transport network, traveller and vehicle behaviour, usage peaks and troughs, the design and operation of towns and cities, and social trends. The maximum value of collaborative CAVs will only be possible with shared ownership and better planned urban networks.

Atkins is currently expanding its use of big data to include mobile phone data, GPS data and a wide range of maintained data assets and connected sensors. This helps us to plan and design future services, quickly address any issues on the network, inform customers of disruptions, travel updates and much more. This is just the tip of what is possible.  We have a growing portfolio of big data insight projects based on more generic and well-maintained data sources, and built on data analytics platforms that can automate common analysis, which enables substantial productivity and quality improvements. 

Using big data insight, we will be able to encourage and incentivise users of the transport system to move closer to their workplace and popular facilities, as well as to more sustainable transport and urban environments. Contemporary planning will help ensure we have the right travel alternatives in the right place and at the right time, making these long term choices attractive.

So what do we need to do now?

  • We need to increase the ‘velocity’ of traditional data analytics from what might be several weeks to a matter of minutes, with big data enabling new forms of algorithms and models to be trained and applied on accelerated computer systems.
  • We need to find a way to ensure data can be shared seamlessly across systems and sectors so we can maximise the benefits of big data for society as a whole.
  • We need to show the general public the benefits that sharing data can have so public opinion can shift and we can better improve people’s lives and journeys through having access to the bigger picture.

By capturing data and applying scenario planning, we can chart our route towards a more connected, automated and data-driven future, and a better passenger experience for us all.

To read the full study click here. To find out more about intelligent mobility from Atkins, visit our hub and join our LinkedIn group.

UK & Europe, Group, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, North America, Rest of World,

As professional engineers, we have a responsibility to help meet this challenge by assisting clients and communities in designing, managing, and operating the roadways of tomorrow, today. That means helping agencies make a monumental shift from relying only on hard capital assets to improve safety and mobility to embracing innovation and technology.

The traditional transportation department charge to effectively build, maintain, and operate highways and their associated infrastructure remains unchanged. But it should be augmented by the integration of innovation and technology solutions for reducing deadly accidents, alleviating traffic delays, and communicating road conditions to travelers.

In many states, intelligent transportation systems are already supporting traffic signals, lane controls, variable message signs, and video monitoring of traffic and highways. Through planned improvements in analytics and integration, existing systems can be enhanced and contribute to more efficient roadway operations. This innovation will help increase the level of critical information that can be disseminated to roadway users, and help manage and operate transportation systems more effectively.

The simple reality is that we cannot build our way out of congestion. The need for a transformation in transportation is revving up in states across the country, and Colorado is among them. Colorado Department of Transportation has taken a bold step to effect change and transform its aging transportation system by embracing technology. Their goal is to be one of the most technologically advanced transportation systems in the nation.

In launching the RoadX Program, CDOT made a commitment to aggressive implementation of new transportation technology within the next 10 years. In support of their aggressive timetable, CDOT took a unique approach to selecting consultants to help advise and lead idea generation. Instead of selecting a single consultant, CDOT selected three (Atkins being one), and they share equal responsibility of solidifying partnerships and entrepreneurial relationships. CDOT’s approach is paying off, with leaders from public organizations and private industry all working together, bringing the brightest innovators to the table from Colorado, across the nation, and around the world.

CDOT is definitely sending a signal that the state means business as it pledges to improve safety for all who use its roadways. They launched a RoadX Bicycle and Pedestrian Challenge that demonstrates the kind of out-of-thebox thinking that takes public involvement to another level. The challenge will award a total of $500,000 to innovators who have the best ideas to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians in Colorado. And in an effort to encourage the best and brightest ideas, CDOT held a networking event with its leadership, industry partners, and innovators to facilitate connections between the individuals, businesses, and agencies that are considering submitting ideas. This emphasis on collaboration at every turn is a differentiator for CDOT, and it is also an approach other transportation agencies can emulate to encourage stakeholder engagement.

Further integration of technology and transportation is simply inevitable. Helping to transform and deliver more efficient, agile, and flexible transportation systems to communities should drive us to take action. This is the type of opportunity to make a difference that led many of us to pursue the engineering profession in the first place.

This article was originally published in the March/April edition of PE Magazine.

North America,

Traditionally, the city’s connectivity has been based on a predominantly physical and modal transport network, with a digital network applied around existing physical infrastructure only recently. While this has created some flexibility in how the network can respond to newer, digitally based services, there are some fixed constraints to the existing physical network that have had to be worked around.

With the capital’s population set to reach 12 million by 2050 an enhanced transport network is essential, but improving the physical aspects will take time and investment. This has to happen, but in order to make London’s transport infrastructure fit for future purpose we need both the physical and the digital elements in place. If configured smartly, these can be mutually supportive and additive.

This is where London can be a global leader in Intelligent mobility, one of the areas we suggested as a key focus for the capital in our response to Sadiq Khan’s London Plan.

A core principle of intelligent mobility is to spot, align and leverage benefits of each improvement project and increase the extent to which they are additive or benefiting of cities, towns and users. For London the question isn’t, “Can London take a more intelligent approach to mobility,” but, “Can London afford not to embrace intelligent mobility, as it finds itself both causing and being impacted by some profound changes?” – changes that include demographic change, the need to improve air quality, ease congestion and meet the housing demand.

In order for London to remain globally competitive, it’s key that infrastructure investments deliver maximised benefits.  Intelligent mobility can help address this challenge and unlock London’s next wave of potential.

Will we ever see a single ‘intelligent mobility programme’ set up and run by the Greater London Authority or Transport for London?  It’s unlikely as we would need to wait for the appropriate conditions (like a single, mega data platform), substantial funding and extensive planning. A more agile approach is already being taken and if we look around we can already see intelligent mobility solutions in action, in London, now.

This includes initiatives such as Greenwich’s GATEway CAV (Connected Autonomous Vehicles) pilot; the innovation in automation by Volvo, Uber and others; the changes in approaches to digital and account based ticketing across Oyster (with handheld device and bank card functionality); Electric Vehicles (EVs) being implemented across the bus network (improving air quality); new approaches to vehicle charging (helping address congestion and air quality); plans for 5G roll out and innovation in promoting flexible working patterns (to help manage peak loading on the physical and digital transport network). 

These, and other similar projects, are and will continue to bring real improvements for the people of London, in all aspects of their lives. They are only a snapshot of current initiatives, so if we stand back and look at where we are, we should be encouraged and excited by the progress made, and the conditions and culture being created through these types of projects. London is ready and hungry for this kind of innovation.

It’s these intelligent mobility projects, within an intelligent mobility framework, that can go a long way towards unlocking the next generation of London’s potential and make it an ever more attractive, inclusive, sustainable and diverse city – a London enabled by intelligent mobility is a force for good not only for our capital, but for the progress of all cities.  

Read Atkins’ full response to Sadiq Khan’s ‘A Better City For All Londoners’ here.

To find out more about intelligent mobility from Atkins, visit our hub.

UK & Europe,

Reflecting on the past few months, it’s prompted me to think about Smart Cities, a phrase that’s not new, has promised so much and in my view, delivered so little. But, with a surge of new technology, digital disruption, entry of new market players and budget challenges for the public sector – could this be the catalyst for change?

With this in mind, coupled with new themes and trends emerging globally across the industry, I wanted to take a moment and make five Intelligent Mobility predictions for 2017…

Data Exploitation and Visualisation: This year we will see the emergence of new platforms, at pace. Data is arguably the life blood of a modern transport systems and critically important to unlocking value from new transport schemes, mobility solutions and customer tailored services. It will be through inter-operability, we see a drive towards ‘Platform as a Service’ across the sector which is here to critically disrupt the way we currently model, plan and deliver transport services globally in cities and urban areas.

Journey Management: We will witness the breakdown of silos across the transport system, with the deployment of critical technology solutions that cut across organisational and operational barriers. The surge of new payment systems will start to deliver seamless and positive customer journey experiences through account based ticketing systems. This will mean no more management of multiple Apps or cards – one account for the individual or family, think Sky-Go package.

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: A huge amount of R&D is currently underway globally, it’s hard to keep up with the activity, announcements, new projects and demonstrations – which of course is great news for the sector and ultimately the consumer, but we have some way to go before cars are completely driverless. However, I’m confident this year we will see the first full scale deployment of a connected vehicle with the surrounding infrastructure, that links directly to the management of the network and supports the maintenance of the road asset.

Mobility as a Service: It’s the ultimate consumer proposition, enabling the movement from transport to mobility. However, the business model is yet to be proven on scale. There are some fantastic schemes I’m watching emerge and develop at the moment and will continue to build throughout 2017, mainly in Europe and in the Middle East. But, it will be in the UK this year I believe we will see a full scale operation of a Mobility as a Service scheme, citywide.

Cyber Security and resilience: Globally, the sector has a lot of work to do across Intelligent Mobility. Areas of development to keep an eye on will be the emergence of Blockchain, along with automotive manufacturers taking further steps to protect their vehicles and the associated data.

Irrespective of whether these predictions come true, we are in for a fast paced and disruptive 2017, with the world of Intelligent Mobility set to be totally unpredictable!

What do you think? Do you agree? Or have you got a different prediction for Intelligent Mobility? It would be great to find out what you think is a trend for 2017.

Join our Intelligent Mobility LinkedIn group with over 4,000 members today:

To find out more about intelligent mobility from Atkins, visit our hub


According to the United Nations DESA report, the world population is projected to increase to 8.5 billion by 2030. The majority of which are expected to live in or near major cities and metroplexes. With status quo, the resulting significant increase in travel demand would place an unacceptable burden on an already saturated transport system, with increased congestion, reduced safety and consequent negative impacts on human quality of life and businesses. The “status-quo approach” is simply not sustainable. While an expansion of the existing infrastructure seems to be the obvious choice, spatial constraints, especially in cities, make this option unviable. The alternative is to increase capacity through increased efficiency, based on a radically new concept of transport operations.

Over the last decade, innovative technologies, products and services have either directly delivered, or empowered significant disruption across the transport sector - with the potential to reshape transport network management and shift the behaviour of, and opportunities for, end-users. Some of the most significant changes have been the introduction of smartphones and other information and communication technologies that have enabled an ever growing range of services to be provided to the end-user, and huge quantities of up-to-date data and information to be shared in real time between relevant stakeholders. These technologies are also key enablers of this radically new concept of transport operations, known as Intelligent Mobility.

Intelligent Mobility is a new approach to the way people, places and goods are being connected across all transport modes. At its core, is the intelligent exploitation of automation and a huge amount of data (commonly known as ‘Big Data’) from relevant elements of the transport system and other sources, including the “Internet of Things” (IoT). This exploitation crucially underpins future journey management and enables services such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS).

Automation is centred on the development of Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) which have the potential to reduce congestion and pollution, and enhance safety. Big data, during planning stages, provides advanced insights into user behaviour, informing infrastructure and service needs as well as policy interventions. During operations, it provides operators and service providers with the necessary information to optimise their network in real-time, to provide up-to-date information and support to the end-user and influence their behaviour. MaaS is a real-time, fully managed personalised mobility service that is driven by user preferences. It provides seamlessly integrated journeys across all transport modes, including fully flexible payment options.

At present, the transport sector is characterised by a high level of fragmentation, with little strategic coordination between relevant market stakeholders. In order to deliver a seamless customer experience across the whole journey, there is an urgent need to bring these stakeholders together, including government, local and national transport authorities, city councils, transport providers, network operators, data providers and vehicle manufactures to mention but a few. This is a great challenge for the transport industry, as the majority of these stakeholders have traditionally operated in isolation of one another.

Fundamentally, the success of ‘Intelligent Mobility’ hinges crucially on the collaboration between all relevant stakeholders. The scale and rate of penetration will depend on three main pillars – collaboration, communication and coordination. It is therefore time we act together! We must be proactive and take the first step.

Get in touch with our Intelligent Mobility Team:

UK & Europe,

Often it’s too easy to get carried away with new technologies and assume that people will use it because it’s novel. To ensure we are applying the right solutions, it is important we seek to understand the needs of the end-user and incorporate these into our design processes. It is only then, we can guarantee the technology will be used and is fit for purpose.

At Atkins, we are continuously considering new ways of travelling that will transform people's journeys and the movement of goods. This includes understanding where we can apply intelligent mobility solutions to bring about significant benefits to both the travelling public and transport providers.

Our involvement in the FLOURISH project is a great example of involving users in the development of the technology to gain a deeper understanding of what customers want. The way it works is through a continuous cycle of gaining insight, development, testing and then refining the technology. Our approach will ensure that provision of future Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) meets specific mobility needs and can improve quality of life by enabling older adults to be active contributors to the economy and society.

Fundamentally, Autonomous Vehicles are set to provide huge advantages to our society and predicted to make a significant difference to tackling the growing problems of congestion, accidents on the roads (accounting for nearly 1.3million deaths per year globally), our growing discontentment with the daily commuting experience and giving us all the chance for a bit more “me time”.

But aren’t there some fundamental challenges behind human behaviour we might be overlooking? Will people be willing to give up their cars which for many, gave them a sense of pride? Additionally, how much trust are we willing to put into technology?

Unpicking these challenges is key to increasing public confidence around the adoption of CAVs. Our involvement in the “VENTURER” project focuses on the users as well as the technology enabling CAVs. The project allows us to understand the blockers and drivers to wide scale adoption of CAV capability. For us, getting feedback from users and other stakeholders is invaluable and means that we are producing a product that will be fit for purpose. For example, gathering invaluable feedback from trial participants on their experiences of Autonomous Vehicles and applying these to our designs, helps us to better understand where improvements can be made.

We have already captured some useful feedback from our VENTURER project. These include, views on manual driving, the driver’s ability to regain control of the vehicle and when the AVs might be most useful in the case of longer journeys.

For me, this is just the start. Without the continued insight and involvement of users, it may be a tough challenge to encourage people on the journey to a fundamental change for us all.

It's also about being bold and doing something a little different. In the case of the Zume trial, we created an on demand commuter shuttle service to explore the feasibility of Mobility as a Service. The two week trial provided new transport partnering opportunities and there was a genuine level of interest from the public. Experiments such as these are useful and we need more opportunities like this to gain valuable insight from both the end users and other stakeholders.

There are often sceptics when it comes to the adoption of new technologies but through our continued efforts to engage end-users and place them at the centre of design, we can hope to influence the hearts and minds of the majority and help turn fantasy into a reality.

To find out more about intelligent mobility from Atkins, visit our hub

UK & Europe,

The first-of-a-kind event was held in conjunction with the CES Conference, an annual consumer electronics and technology tradeshow in Las Vegas. In the spirit of the summit theme, taken from an Elvis Presley song, “A Little Less Conversation,” we helped Nevada do more than talk about intelligent mobility, or iM—they illustrated with real-world examples of advancements in the iM space.

I’m often asked, “So, what is intelligent mobility?”

It may mean different things to different clients depending where they are in their iM journey. Events like the GO-NV Summit helped clarify some aspects of iM for attendees. The bigger goal of GO-NV was to take the conversation toward action to start deploying solutions. 

Our approach to iM is a global one—each of our regions is working with clients, technologists, developers and solutions providers to address the growing scope of iM needs world-wide. Our definition is simple: Intelligent mobility is an end-user and outcome-focused approach to connecting people, places and services—reimagining infrastructure across all transport modes, enabled by data, technology and innovative ideas. We describe our iM work in four areas: the power to transform lives; progress and change; catalyst for collaboration, and implementation at its heart.

The Power to Transform Lives
Clearly, iM has the potential to enable people who struggle with finding safe, convenient, affordable travel options across all modes of transportation. We’re working with state and local governments across the country, facilitating innovative visioning and roadmap development sessions to address the rapidly evolving needs around iM.

The GO-NV Summit brought to life the four principles of our iM approach. The industry executives who spoke at the event provided attendees with an understanding of what technology and transportation companies, and their partners, are doing to advance mobility, the best practices for building smart and connected communities, and what is still needed for connected and autonomous vehicles, or CAVs, to become a viable mode of transportation for the general public. The speakers focused on how mobility will be achieved, building things locally in Nevada, using drone technology, and using Nevada as a testbed for CAV and other technologies.

Automation will help those who don’t have access achieve greater mobility, enabling them to do much more if they choose to do so.

It will also improve the safety of our transportation systems, resulting in less accidents, injury and death, which has spurred a lot of interest and passion around the topic. Who wouldn’t want safer, less congested roadways and safer, more reliable, convenient public transportation systems? 

Progress and Change
It’s difficult to think of another area with the same level of enthusiasm and excitement as iM. The developments and deployments involving iM seem to be gaining momentum daily. The collaboration of engineering companies with software developers and other nontraditional partners has resulted in rapid transformation in terms of driverless vehicles, safety features, and have included all aspects of the journey, from tolling to intelligent roadways. 

Las Vegas’ Economic Development Group is positioning for this change as a way to grow and advance. As one of the U.S.’s most popular tourist destinations, it’s in Las Vegas’s best interest to assure visitors their trip will be hassle-free and safe. The developments around iM will do just that—they will make visitors much more mobile (more transportation options and end-to-end journey planning), less stressed (removing cars from roadways), and safer (CAVs, intelligent systems to manage traffic). 

Catalyst for Collaboration
We can best describe our role in iM as innovation facilitators. We excel at bringing a variety of stakeholders together around an issue, facilitating discussion, bringing solutions and solution providers forward, and turning ideas into actionable outcomes. It’s very much a team effort—our team of technologists and experts in the intelligent mobility field brings together developers, software engineers, government agencies and planners, among others, to develop and deploy workable iM solutions.

Intelligent mobility has created collaboration among data specialists, software developers, federal and state and local agencies, entrepreneurs, vehicle manufacturers, and technology and engineering companies like ours. Interoperability of systems, getting systems to “talk” to each other and work seamlessly, has mandated collaboration. Nevada Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada’s Freeway & Arterial System of Transportation, or FAST, is a perfect example of this—a truly integrated intelligent transportation system (ITS) organization, one of the first in the country. 

Implementation at Its Heart
Being able to develop solutions and implement them safely and seamlessly is our overall goal in iM. The City of Las Vegas and Clark County have implemented leave in place—not a demo or a pilot project, but early deployments that can be adjusted while deployed. Through collaboration, using techniques like visioning and ideation, we’re helping clients develop a roadmap for iM. Las Vegas took one step closer in January as NAVYA and Keolis, in partnership with the City of Las Vegas, launched the first autonomous electric shuttle ever to be deployed on a public roadway in the United States.

During this GO-NV Summit, we helped Las Vegas become one of the only locations in the world to host interoperable connected vehicles accessing the same roadside units (RSU). In the spirit of collaboration, several manufacturers shared access to RSUs to demonstrate CAV applications during CES. The Summit's speakers focused on the current projects making advanced mobility a reality today, including specific accomplishments and successful public-private partnerships.

Cleary iM momentum is building. Just one week later, we showcased our experience during an interview with the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada for an investment study to explore combining various modes of transportation—innovation/tech. Opportunities exist in Colorado with CDOT’s RoadX program, the Miami-Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization in Florida for its CAVs program, and others across the US.

As we see conversation become reality in the iM space, we also recognize that there is still much to be done—cybersecurity advancements, assessing and planning for energy needs, communications systems, and flawless logistics are all areas that are conversation topics with action most likely not far behind. 

To find out more about intelligent mobility from Atkins, visit our hub

North America,

Transport planners in cities around the world – after decades of neglect – are now acknowledging the functionality of walking and cycling, in particular for short local trips and as ‘first and last mile’ connections to public transport. But another mode of urban mobility is emerging which could add to the mix of options and prove a game changer.

The new mode is known by some as Personal Mobility Devices, or PMDs. These are generally lightweight motorised vehicles powered by small electric motors to increase travel speed and distance of individual users without major exertion. PMDs come at a time when infrastructure investment and targeted marketing campaigns have helped grow take up of active travel modes which are increasingly recognised in terms of value and benefits to public realm and health. The term embraces a plethora of new consumer products such as e-scooters, hoverboards, electric monowheels and mini segways. New devices continue to be developed and are falling in price to levels well within the reach of those on middle incomes.

In most cities to date PMDs have mostly been used for leisure purposes. Some of us have given them to our children as playthings and we are increasingly seeing young people riding them in parks and on footpaths for recreation. Because they have a largely niche application and due to the lack of a clear legal definition they have largely escaped the serious scrutiny of transport planning professionals and not received much consideration as part of the accepted hierarchy of transport modes.

Where policy makers have stepped in the approach has often been to ban or restrict PMDs from footways or public spaces on the basis of health and safety, risk to other users and regulatory ambiguity around technical standards.And PMDs are often not allowed to be carried on aeroplanes or trains on the grounds of limited space for storage or the fire risk posed by their battery packs. 

It is easy to dismiss PMDs as a passing gimmick, or let decisions be made on the narrow basis of health and safety or poorly designed and maintained infrastructure, rather than see their wider potential for use on short distance trips. While safety concerns will – and should – always have priority these devices may yet, in my opinion, have a positive role to play in urban mobility policy and extending the accessibility of public transport.

It is therefore time we defined our terms properly, gathered the evidence and had in open debate about the role of PMDs alongside walking and cycling as viable alternatives to the car. The profession must also seek to create proactive and safe deployment through clear standards and guidelines.

Singapore is one city where PMDs are gaining traction as a key component of a ‘car- lite’ society, as a strong alternative mode for first and last mile links to public transport and as an important element of creating a sustainable and ‘liveable’ city. Such devices feature prominently in the Government’s ‘Walk-Cycle-Ride Singapore’ campaign, are allowed to share certain walking and cycling infrastructure and are a focus within events such as Car Free Sundays.

Proponents argue that PMDs serve much the same role as walking and cycling in reducing car dependency and extend the catchment of public transport without the need for major infrastructure investment or feeder bus or taxi services.

They also do so in a manner which is appropriate to Singapore’s tropical climate where heat and humidity deter many people from intense physical exertion for much of the year. Against these arguments critics have expressed serious concerns over the dangers posed to pedestrians by reckless riding and point out that PMDs have only a fraction of the health benefits of non-motorised transport.

Now after much debate the Singapore Government is legislating to set clear rules and regulations as to what riders of PMDs can and cannot do and where they can do it. The Singapore Government introduced an Active Mobility Bill in November 2016, which is currently completing Parliamentary approval and enactment is due early this year. The Bill includes the use of PMDs and limits their speed to between 15 and 25km/h depending on type, route and location.

A series of rules and a code of conduct are being set out to encourage responsible use. Rules include the need for lights to be fitted and turned on at night, use of hand signals, observing of all relevant traffic regulations and exchanging personal details in the event of an accident. Penalties of up to S$5000 (about £2800) will be handed down for reckless riding behaviour, with custodial sentences of up to 12 months for the most serious offences.

Over the last year ownership of PMDs has grown in Singapore, especially e-scooters which are increasingly being seen on the streets. There is an active and competitive supplier market developing and a proposal has been made for a public e-scooter hire scheme, operating much like the public cycle hire schemes of London and Paris.

The question in my mind is whether Singapore’s acceptance of PMDs offers an example for other cities across the world seeking to safely adopt the latest wave of innovation. And are PMDs a passing fad, an unsafe nuisance or potentially a disruptive form of technology here to stay? If such devices are recognised as a proper transport mode how do we weigh their costs, benefits and wider impacts and adapt the design and maintenance of infrastructure and public realm to allow their safe (and as appropriate shared) use? Would the policy adopted in Singapore play well in other cities with a hot or tropical climate, such as Kuala Lumpur or Dubai, or even in those with temperate conditions such as London, New York or Munich? Will cities leading on public transport or cycling such as Zurich, Amsterdam and Copenhagen see PMDs as irrelevant, a threat or an opportunity?

Like the long running debate over shared design and use of infrastructure and public space between pedestrians and cyclists there will likely be a wide range of views, enthusiasms and concerns over the wider take up of PMDs, some of them passionately held on both sides. In deciding future policy for any given city, we should assess evidence from around the world to help shape what could be an exciting new aspect of urban mobility.

Find out more about Intelligent Mobility(iM) here.
Join the Intelligent Mobility conversation on LinkedIn.
This article first appeared in Transportation Professional, the magazine of the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation.

Asia Pacific,

Only last week the headline ‘look no hands’ was pasted across a Dubai newspaper, confirming that a car had driven the 100 km journey itself between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.  Maybe the introduction of mainstream driverless cars isn’t too far off after all.  Dubai actually already has the longest Connected and Autonomous vehicle (CAV), in the form of its Metro, which has been running with ‘no hands’ since 2009.  And those in the taxi business might say that the ability to order and direct a vehicle  is a proxy CAV; the International Road Transport Union (IRU)  recently revealed that their UpTop scheme (bringing global taxi apps onto one platform) has attracted more than double the number of vehicles using Uber.

The notion of driverless is not new: besides several metros around the world, driverless lifts and elevators have been around for decades, as has the autopilot button that gets pressed when we fly across the globe. We’ve in fact been using driverless transport for years with a strong safety record. 

But CAVs (and their offshoots) are likely to have a greater impact than the first jet airliners of the early 1960s.  At Atkins, a design, engineering and project management consultancy, we consider that this new means of travel and the data generated by its introduction, will touch every part of the built environment - a real eye opener.  We are ourselves leading the UK development of an independent test site for, and a market leading capability in, autonomous vehicles, investigating the legal and insurance aspects of driverless cars and exploring how the public react to such vehicles. The programme will help to deepen our understanding of the impact on road users and wider society and open up new opportunities for our economy and society.

We also have teams of people around the world looking into connecting people, places and services and reimagining infrastructure across all transport modes, enabled by data, technology and innovative ideas. Intelligent mobility (iM) looks into new ways of travelling that will transform people's journeys and the movement of goods, with efficiency, sustainability and safety of our transport systems and cities worldwide paramount.

In America, our colleagues are seeing some real challenges around the need for a consistent approach to CAV introduction.  At the moment US Federal law is somewhat ambivalent on CAV roll out, principles have been set at a national level – make it safe, protect data -  yet it is leaving individual states to figure out the real details with regards to the planning, design and the implementation of CAVs into urban transport systems.  Such detail will vary from state to state, possibly confusing motorists, manufacturers and operators alike.  However it is exciting to know that most states are reviewing their existing transport infrastructure inventories, with a view embracing the change and the hope of controlling and reprioritising infrastructure spend in parallel. This in part of course is due to the Governance system that prevails in the US.  The UK’s more inclusive approach on CAVs is an exemplar, bringing public and private entities feeding off a wealth of ideas through a broad institutional framework.

What about the all that extra free time we will now have inside the car, as we will be relieved from manhandling the steering wheel?   It is possible that people might starting literally living in their cars, the impacts of which could be far ranging for city planning both in terms of land development/housing stock as well as the services required to manage these nomadic drivers  - (could this really happen?)  This just highlights that it isn’t only the technology but a major social change that is likely to take place.  So I offer are we ‘giving up control’ and are we also giving up on the community as we sit in our individual pods with internet and all else on tap?

For me personally, I can’t wait to be motoring down a fogbound expressway, knowing that we are all travelling at the same safe speed, and arriving at work much less agitated having had extra time to prepare for that critical meeting: the one proviso being that there is sufficient resilience/security in the system to indeed ensure that traffic is controlled effectively and safely. 


This article first appeared on IoT Tech News.

To find out more about intelligent mobility from Atkins, visit our hub

Middle East & Africa, North America, UK & Europe,


With populations and economies growing in cities across the World, and public expectations for journeys that are safer, quicker, more reliable, sustainable and resilient, urban transport networks needs to better connected and integrated than ever before. They also need to utilise finite funding, land and other resources prudently and combine consumers, operators service providers and regulators within a coherent and inter-linked “ecosystem.” With digital technology advancing, increasingly connected and populated by the Internet of Things and Big Data, there has never been a better time to deploy transport solutions that can deliver better outcomes with smaller resource outlay and footprint.

Many current urban transport challenges stem from the inefficiencies of over a century of mass adoption of the private car, whilst conventional public transport systems have frequently been unable to offer a competitive alternative in terms of journey time, flexibility to user needs, price and ability to pay. Exploiting recent innovation in technology systems and processes to respond to and overcome these limitations, Intelligent Mobility is rapidly developing as the seamless ‘future of transport.’ Applications in Mobility as a Service, Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, interactive Journey Planning and electric powertrains are already delivering, or offer prospects for, enhanced and optimised operational performance, environmental impact, commercial feasibility and consumer acceptance. Moreover, much of the progress being made is driven not by governments, but by the private sector, which is itself subject to creative disruption, new business models and start-ups coming from nowhere to challenge market incumbents. Increasingly, it is self-evident that the mobility problems and risks facing 21st Century cities cannot be tackled with outdated 20th Century planning and regulation. Fresh thinking is required and new ideas need to be turned from theory to reality on the ground.

Nowhere is this truer than in Asia where cities such as Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo are developing, testing and adopting new best-in-class smart urban mobility approaches ahead of the global curve. Emerging urban economies in Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines are also seeking to gain traction in supporting basic urban transport infrastructure and services to serve young and growing populations in a cost-effective manner, and adopt leapfrog technology in tackling their acute operational, social and environmental challenges.


Atkins believes that Intelligent Mobility, and the computing power, communications and data which support it, will enable more informed, multi-modal, personalised and flexible decisions to be made by network owners, service operators and providers and travellers themselves. In time, this will drive influence operator and end user needs and support sustainable economic growth and competitive advantage through knowledge creation and exploitation. However, this will only happen if policy makers and regulators within the public sector are clear about the objectives to be achieved, act proportionately in balancing unconstrained innovation with protecting individuals and society and support the early market for key products before commercial viability, bankability,supply chain and mass adoption can be demonstrated.

For this reason, this week, Atkins has been hosting its first global Intelligent Mobility Week. This brings together key experts from Atkins, clients and influential stakeholders in the UK, Middle East, North America and Asia Pacific to coordinate a programme to raise profile and stimulate engagement across industry, government, partners and academia. The focus is on the ‘big question’ – what is Intelligent Mobility, how, and where, is it developing, who is driving it and what does it mean for the supply chain of planners, technology providers, transport operators and, of course, ultimately for end users?


Here in Singapore, the Government has invested heavily to expand urban rail, bus and taxi services to make it much easier to get from one place to another without the need to use a private car. In addition, whilst the urban road network has been progressively expanded, the capacity and accessibility benefits of this investment have been locked in through Travel Demand Management measures, such as Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) which helps ensure smooth-flowing traffic. With car ownership kept at noticeably lower rates than other international cities, transportation planning has been closely integrated with land use, and investment directed into promoting first and last mile connections by active travel and personal mobility devices such as e-scooters. A range of technology trials of Automated Vehicles are also under way, linked potentially to shared mobility models such as Uber and Grab.

The strategy is working; Singapore has enviable transport outcomes for some key metrics such as congestion delay, mode share, air quality and accessibility and consistently features highly in global rankings of urban mobility, economic growth and quality of life.

The Land Transport Authority acknowledges that in order for this approach to work, the public want more information to manage their travel decisions and have confidence in the multi-modal choices which are available. Since 2011 it has developed an “E-Place for All” through the MyTransport.SG portal and smart application to provide real-time travel information, such as bus arrivals, directions to train stations or bus stops, traffic news updates, car park availability, ERP prices and cycling routes. MyTransport.SG continues to continuously improve with the recent addition of information on public transport fares, bus and train crowding, “snap and send” functionality to report road defects, and information on how to get to local events and places of interest. Future plans will add car sharing and public cycle hire once these public-private partnership schemes commence over the next few years,The success of MyTransport.SG, now downloaded over 1 million times and a host of third-party travel applications, including Uber, Grab, Waze and, is assisted by the fact that Singaporeans love their mobiles. In per capita terms, the Country is the world’s largest smartphone market, with mobile devices now outstripping desk top computer use to access the Internet. Consumers across Asia are mirroring this trend, with many countries now over the 50% adoption rate for smartphones, leapfrogging the desktop-based Internet to create a new and exciting mobile web landscape for a wide range of services and opportunities. This is a major disruptor and wake up call to any transport agency or business without a mobile-enabled or ­optimised website or app, and a chance for new business models, service bundles and value propositions to come forward, experiment and take hold.


As the race for technical standards for the systems and processes behind Intelligent Mobility progresses, levels of innovation in hardware, software and user interface can be expected to converge at some point. Singapore may have an impressive lead, but Japan, China, California and some countries in Europe are not far behind. Others will inevitably follow in time, even in developing economies where the combination of unmanned drones and super-fast 5G networks could in the future provide urban and rural accessibility where roads are rudimentary, impassable or absent altogether.

However, whilst core technologies may align, policy and regulatory responses from governments, as well as consumer needs and levels of acceptance are more likely to remain localised and distinct. Atkins’ approach to Intelligent Mobility campaign provides a positive platform to have conversations around these points of difference, asking questions such as:

  • What is the current State of the Art in Intelligent Mobility and against key uncertainties and risks which approaches look most likely to gain traction and acceptance in different parts of the World?
  • What are the economic, social and environmental benefits of harnessing emerging technologies and how do these align with government objectives as well as the interests of operators, service providers and consumers?
  • How will Intelligent Mobility, including key concepts such as AVs, influence the design, operation and management of road infrastructure, and inform a more people-centred approach to urban planning, public realm and the making of places?
  • What are the barriers and practical issues for early adoption and mainstream deployment of key technologies and innovative practices, and how can these be over-come?
  • How can the boundaries of technology and operational performance be expanded at the same time as protecting public safety and security, protecting personal privacy and data rights, providing certainty to all over key regulatory tools, such as traffic laws and rules of the road?
  • How can Intelligent Mobility be successfully funded, governed and managed across the public and private sectors, who will be the key players in driving innovation forward, and how will the digital disruption of existing stakeholders and business models, and emergence of new players evolve?
  • What are the likely Intelligent Mobility applications (and distribution of benefits) for emerging as well advanced economies and how can leapfrog technology and knowledge transfer be promoted so these countries go from zero to high capability in a generation?
  • How does Intelligent Mobility integrate with other planning and technology concepts, including Future Proofing and Smart Cities and integrate across different service propositions?

Atkins’ Intelligent Mobility campaign provides us with a great opportunity to debate some of these seminal questions across disciplines, and propose some solutions to provide towards coherent, structured and systematic way forward

Jonathan Spear is a Director with Atkins Acuity, based in Singapore. He has over 22 years’ experience in transport policy, strategy and regulation across Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific. He is increasingly focused on the policy, regulatory and public acceptance aspects of new technology, and is currently leading Atkins Intelligent Mobility activities in South East Asia and China. 

To find out more about intelligent mobility from Atkins, visit our hub

UK & Europe,

Ford recently announced plans to develop high-volume, highly autonomous driverless vehicles, aiming to achieve SAE International’s level 4, enabling high system control of vehicles. News headlines over the last few years have highlighted the potential dangers to autonomous vehicles from cyber-attack or system failure. Major manufacturers have all reported issues and the well-tested Google car had its first crash in 2016 after several years of use. Experience tells us control software, and its decision-making logic, is not infallible. While incidents are rare, the potential remains for them to be catastrophic.

Automation at the levels envisaged by manufacturers is bordering on both the common place and science fiction. To me the SAE International levels are an Isaac Asimov-like ‘six laws of driving automation’; from no automation (level zero) through to full automation (level six) with various modes and capabilities being engaged across the driving range. For levels three to six, an increasingly bewildering range of technologies that make up vehicle systems could equate to the robotic ‘positronic brain’ in Asimov’s robots – the heart of autonomous decision-making for vehicle control, monitoring and performance.

Reading between the lines, no doubt Asimov’s robots were very heavily tested and the positronic brains put through their paces. It feels like the same may not be said for autonomous vehicles.

In technology terms alone, interconnectedness abounds both within and without the vehicle and the attack surface is staggering: infotainment systems, wireless sensors, diagnostic ports, infrared control, USB, Bluetooth, keyless entry and telematics services with in-car applications. Each of these systems is potentially complicated by various levels of product maturity and multivendor system solutions that in turn engage with other elements of a digital ecosystem.

While the core components in themselves may be robust, it is the link to other components outside the core elements that offer potential areas of weakness and vulnerability to cyber-attack from increasingly challenging threats. Should an attack or system failure occur, the impact is huge in terms of vehicle passengers and the manufacturer’s reputation. Securing these linkages across a diverse vendor base is a huge challenge. This patchwork build structure inevitably leads to weaknesses, many of which will be very familiar to veteran security hands:

  • Poor, or non-existent, product hardening including simple passwords or open communications
  • Lack of encryption across the vehicle network and through the telematics system
  • Poor segregation between components across the vehicle network.

These are security’s ‘grapes’, ripe for picking, followed by mayhem in the pressing shed. There is so much more that the manufacturers could do but at the moment they appear to choose not to.

While technology advances, bigger, more human-centric questions are raised. Trust is critical. Humans must believe that these autonomous systems will operate properly if the industry has a successful future. After all, just who would get into one if the destination could be changed and the doors locked to stop escape! Providing real assurance that a vehicle is safe and secure is paramount.

Also, its decision-making heart must also be able to make the same value judgements that humans make every day. Can it make decisions between life and death? What logic applies then? What humans do by reaction, wisdom or feeling needs replicating. We must have full confidence in the systems if we are to use them on our roads.

Just how do we provide this assurance? How happy do people need to be to give up their control?

The industry is confident it can overcome these challenges, but from a security perspective the way forward does not seem so assured. With a multitude of manufacturers and vendors each developing products in isolation or exclusive partnerships, this fragmentation hides potential vulnerabilities between systems and implementations. Over the last couple of years we’ve started to see some emerging security approaches beyond ISO 26262 but these don’t feel enough. Both the SAE and the IET have active groups exploring these issues so the problem is being worked on.

With all this new technology about, security needs to step back a bit and perhaps remember the 80-20 rule: As a starting point, implementing the 20% most important controls will likely manage 80% of the security risk. This basic approach can take security forward with a bit more pace – taking an overall look at vehicle cyber security through a framework model focused at increasing protection, resilience, awareness and confidence in the systems.

At the very least manufacturers and vendors could be prompted to assess the overall maturity of their cyber security within the operational systems of vehicles, the modules they plug in and how they then interact, including the information captured and its subsequent flow. These assessments can be used as a baseline to demonstrate what is being performed well, what security gaps exist and how these can be reduced to increase the overall security posture.

Taking things further through more regular reviews and updates of systems that include patching on the move, improvements in general and good housekeeping all go a long way to getting the 80-20 right and taking most vulnerabilities out of circulation. This can only lead to better human assurance that really builds confidence in these vehicles.

UK & Europe,

Often used as a buzz word, everyone talks about it but it seems there has been some confusion and lack of clarity on what this actually includes, and how, for example, this differs from the ITS sector or the ‘smart city’ concept. Definitions could be summarised as initiatives using technology to:

  • Improve current transport systems, by making them whether more efficient/less costly (e.g. electric vehicles, wireless induction charging) or more convenient (e.g. City Mapper, contactless payment, AutoPilot from Tesla); and
  • Provide new opportunities to move around, e.g. Uber, self-service bike-sharing scheme, Drive Now from BMW.

Considering those two angles, whether improving the existing or creating new mobility opportunities; one could argue what is new about this? For generations, engineers and scientists have been trying to do exactly the same - achieve those two goals, with a similar approach which is using ‘new’ technologies available at the time.  A simple example is the inventors of the internal-combustion engine whom we can’t deny they were doing ‘intelligent mobility’.

Some will disagree and say that Intelligent Mobility includes the focus on user needs and a real personalisation of the journey. Again, transport has always been on meeting user needs and putting the user at the centre of the journey somehow. What is more personalised than the private car? Current technology, especially based on the mobile phone, has generated opportunities for personalisation and indeed to a greater extent than anything possible before. It is this shift that creates a new framework and stimulates a change in behaviour that helps to make Intelligent Mobility a new trend.

Fundamentally, Intelligent Mobility is about innovating and thinking differently, based on the new opportunities technology brings us.

However, it is important to note that the concept of sharing resources, whether bicycles or cars, or partnering with a party from another discipline (e.g. Airbnb with Tesla) to create new solutions, or developing a new business model (e.g. MaaS) are firstly founded on human intelligent ideas and secondly, amplified by technology.

To learn more about Atkins' Intelligent Mobility solutions click here. Join the conversation here

UK & Europe,

First world investment in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) continues at a staggering pace, with announcements made almost on a daily basis around new technology developments or deployment demonstrators. However, limited research has been undertaken to fully understand the impact of adopting CAVs in the developing world.

It is expected that Autonomous Vehicles will provide an array of benefits for the developing world - the most important benefit will be a significant reduction in the number of fatalities as a result of road accidents and air pollution. Research shows there are more than 700,000 road accident fatalities in Asia each year which represents approximately 60% of the entire world fatalities. AVs could significantly reduce the number of immature deaths by reducing the number of accidents on the road network and providing a healthier environment for the residents of these cities.

If Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) ran at an operator level where the user can hire/pay for services as they go, this could significantly increase the number of people who have access to a vehicle. According to the 2011 census in India, 90% of people in urban areas and 97% of people in rural areas do not have access to a vehicle. It is a well-known fact that the developing world cities suffer from grid locked roads which cost countries like Jakarta, an estimated US$2.8 billion. AVs have the potential to reduce these figures by operating more effectively which will relieve congestion on the network.

One of the largest challenges in the developing world is the public acceptance of CAVs. A recent report undertaken by Cisco (2013) which surveyed 10 countries, outlined that 60% of the respondents from the USA and 45% from the UK would travel in an AV compared to 95% in Brazil and 86% in India. This suggests that developing countries are more accepting of such technologies. This could be as a result of cultural reasons why the developing world appears to be more accepting of new technologies. The developing world encounters ‘fatalities’ on a regular basis, therefore making the public more accepting to proposed solutions.

Millions have been invested in the technology required for CAVs to operate in the developed world, however the infrastructure and networks in the developing world could be significantly different. As such, with auto manufacturers having a global reach, a benchmarking system will be required to ensure the technology meets the best practice of all road types in all road areas. This benchmarking system will need to be developed based on knowledge and experience of the networks and infrastructure in the developing world. It is important these countries act now to ensure they secure the funding and have the procedures in place to support and deliver VAV solutions on their road networks. This includes considering infrastructure implications, the insurance models and the required legislation needed to make this a reality.

UK & Europe,

Imagine a typical six-lane motorway. Now try to imagine what it would look like if you stripped away all the lane markings, all the barriers and all the signs. What you’d be left with is a blank swathe of tarmac – daunting for the human motorist maybe, but for driverless vehicles, raw road space like this could be the future. Instead of just six lanes, the no-frills motorway would be able to pack in 12 streams or more of self-driving traffic, with vehicles grouped at much higher densities – significantly increasing capacity.

Welcome to the future of roads – or at least one version of it. The idea of free space highways may seem far-fetched, but it highlights the questions now facing governments, infrastructure owners and road industry suppliers. What might a driverless future look like? And how do you make investment decisions about future infrastructure if you don’t know how it’s going to be used?

“At some point in the future, we will have driverless cars,” says Lesley Waud, market director for strategic highways with Atkins in the UK. “What I’m interested in – and what my clients are interested in – is how we get there. How long is it going to take and what are the stages on that journey?”

Change is coming. What’s complicating matters is that nobody really knows what form that change will take or how fast it will happen. “In the US, the roadmap to vehicle automation is often split between two camps of thinking, one projecting incremental change as automation features are gradually introduced by automakers; the other foreseeing revolutionary change driven by technology players and new mobility providers,” says Matt D’Angelo, vice president, Atkins in North America. “For the time being, the infrastructure planner’s point of view will likely need to be highly adaptable and flexible among this uncertainty.”

Exploring new avenues

Technology is already changing the way roads are used. The UK’s 'smart motorways' are an example. These are motorways in which the hard shoulder is no longer reserved for breakdowns but is instead used as an extra lane for traffic. Smart motorways are among the technologies that fall under the banner of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) – the name given to applications that make use of information and communication technologies to improve mobility.

Smart motorways rely on active traffic management. Traffic flow data is used to calculate the most appropriate speed for the volume of vehicles on the motorway and a variable speed limit is displayed. This eliminates stop-start cycles, cuts congestion and improves safety.

No matter how compelling the benefits, it takes time to get motorists acclimatised to new ways of using the road – a key consideration in the shift to automated vehicles. Understanding human behaviour is every bit as important as the underlying technology.

“You have to build public confidence,” stresses Waud. “We do a lot of work with human factors people to understand how the solutions we’re developing might be received by road users.”

Similar public acceptance issues have been critical to the operation of priced managed lanes in the US, also known as High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. “As prices are adjusted to manage demand, clear communication with the driver is critical to meet expectations about both the quality and price of the trip,” says D’Angelo.

Atkins is active across the road transport arena. In the UK, it is the lead partner in the Venturer consortium which is trialling autonomous vehicles in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. The firm is also leading the FLOURISH consortium, which was recently awarded a multi-million pound government research grant to develop user-centric autonomous vehicle technology. 

In the Middle East, the company is working extensively on ITS programmes in the United Arab Emirates and has advised Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait.

“We provide design and operational services for road network control centres and network management. The focus is on enabling a consistent journey time, providing information to road users and improving safety,” explains Ian Machen, associate director, Atkins. “Our highways teams create the geometry for junction design and we create the methodology for the control of these junctions and road networks in terms of CCTV, variable message signs, flow information and signalised junctions.”

Soaring car ownership is fuelling major congestion problems in the Gulf region. In the Emirate of Dubai, for example, the number of cars on the road rose by nearly 30 per cent in the five years to 2013. Traffic snarl-ups are reckoned to cost the Dubai economy more than US$800m per year.

Smarter junctions help to ease the pressure. Dubai has about 500 signalised road junctions – the largest number in the UAE. “The first contract I managed in the region was for Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) to undertake a complete systems review of their control centre,” says Machen. “As part of that contract, we redesigned the way that ITS equipment worked on 17 junctions.”

New detection equipment was installed and intersections reconfigured to optimise performance. The redesigned system promotes “green waving: the ability to group vehicles into platoons and to ensure they hit every junction on green as they move across the city. 

“Since successfully delivering this with the RTA in Dubai, we’ve won a number of repeat contracts to enhance more junctions within the Emirate,” says Machen.

Urban traffic management systems of the sort used in Dubai depend on links between traffic signals, vehicle detectors and the central control system. The most efficient way to make these connections is using optical fibres. But in fast-growing cities, road networks often grow quicker than fibre networks. “You can either wait until the physical networks are available or go wireless,” says Machen. 

Wireless has two main attractions. One is that it reduces disruption – there’s no need to dig up the road. Another is that wireless can be deployed quickly. In the Emirate of Sharjah, which adjoins Dubai, Atkins has advised using a wireless mesh network which means faster ITS delivery.

“Sharjah will be rolling out a fibre network, but it all takes time,” says Machen. “We recommended a wireless mesh network. It allows them to connect their junctions online now and gives us better reliability than 3/4G on its own.”

Roads reimagined 

Technological advances are also opening up new ways of using roads. In France, the government’s ecology and energy minister, Ségolène Royal, recently announced plans to cover 1,000km of road with solar photovoltaic panels – potentially turning highways into linear power stations.

Solar collectors – just a few millimetres (a fraction of an inch) thick and with a gripping surface for traffic – are bonded to the road with no need for digging. One kilometre of adapted road could provide lighting for 5,000 people, the French government says. The product is known as Wattway and was developed by Colas. With more than one million kilometres of road, more than any other European nation, France is well-placed to benefit from such technology.

France’s solar highways underline a new willingness to challenge traditional ideas about road use. In North America, for example, a growing number of cities are adopting “complete streets” programmes to make urban roads accessible for all ages, abilities and modes of travel – not just cars. In the UK, meanwhile, the Atkins-designed diagonal crossing at London’s Oxford Circus has transformed the relationship between pedestrians and traffic.

Roads are evolving. But vehicles are evolving faster. From collision avoidance to parking assistance, modern vehicles incorporate ever-higher levels of automation. And they’re increasingly connected: according to Gartner, 250 million vehicles will have some sort of wireless connection by 2020.

Social trends, as much as technological ones, point the way to a future that is not only driverless, but potentially ownerless as well. The rise of ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft, the growth of personal contract purchase (PCP) and the fact that car ownership is no longer seen as a rite of passage all point to radically different types of road use. These trends are already underpinning the rise of new on-demand transport models such as Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS).

While automated vehicles are some way off, technology now flooding into vehicles – including sat navs that display real-time traffic information – could have more immediate implications for road infrastructure.

“We rely on roadside signals at the moment,” says Waud. “But we’re going to move to a point where those signals are on the dashboard. That will reduce the need for infrastructure, along with the installation, operation and maintenance costs that go with it.”

The current direction of travel, as far as automation is concerned, remains in the hands of automotive manufacturers rather than governments. “Manufacturers are introducing technology because drivers want it,” notes Waud. “But in the longer term, demand by road network operators could also shape technology in vehicles.”

Governments have so far been content to sit on the fence as far as vehicle automation is concerned. That’s changing. In the US, the Department of Transportation recently announced plans to implement consistent self-driving laws across the country. “Some US states are taking a proactive approach in marketing their facilities and programs to be friendly to manufacturers and mobility innovators, such as the Colorado DOT through their RoadX program,” says D’Angelo. “We envision a shift in relationships and roles between the infrastructure provider and all stakeholders in the mobility value chain.”

Europe, meanwhile, will see the first government mandated in-car technology with eCall – an automatic crash notification system – become compulsory in new cars from 2018.

It’s still too early to judge exactly what impact driverless technology might have on the roadside. Some envisage the use of vehicle-to-infrastructure communications (V2I) to manage traffic while improving safety and reducing emissions. This would mean widespread deployments of dedicated short-range radio infrastructure and a need for new skill sets for infrastructure operators. Others foresee a world in which cars rely entirely on their own sensors. 

Whatever happens, governments and road operators are unlikely to relinquish central supervision – particularly on strategic urban and national networks.

“There’s a security side to this,” emphasises Machen. “If there’s any disruption, connected cars will try to re-route themselves. Network owners need to know what’s going on because this can have a wider impact on the city and the ability to deploy emergency services. It’s about information share.”

Deciding who gets access that information – and how they use it – is likely to prove every bit as challenging as perfecting the driverless technology itself.


For more information on MaaS, you can download our white paper, Journeys of the Future, written by the UK Transportation’s intelligent mobility team at Atkins here.

To continue the discussion on Intelligent Mobility, please join our dedicated LinkedIn Group.

Group, UK & Europe, Middle East & Africa,

Every sixty seconds, Facebook users ‘like’ around 4 million posts, Apple users download 51,000 apps and Skype users make 110,040 calls (DOMO, 2015). The amount of data generated has grown exponentially, with 90% of data produced over the last two years (SINTEF). For example, if we look at the internet, the first billion of connected users was reached in 12 years, the second billion in 5 years, and the third billion in 4 years.

Taking the local authorities and transport operators as an example, the valuable knowledge lying within the data and in particular the generation of readily accessible information has created the following opportunities:

Generating value: e.g. live bus arrivals allowing passengers to use their time more effectively, real-time parking availability reducing the time drivers spend searching for a parking space etc.

Doing things more efficiently: e.g. use of digital payment which has reduced cost and process time at stations

Generating new capabilities and insights: e.g. passengers having easy access to more travel options due to journey planning apps, giving passengers more control of their journey

However, many cities have not made the most of the vast quantity of data they already have. Work still needs to be done in terms of combining and analysing data from separate organisations, implementing open data policy, and exploiting  private sector data (e.g. from mobile phone networks or logistic companies). There are numerous challenges and questions to address, such as what the value of opening up the data will be, what data access and usage rights are required, what skills are needed to become digital and what governance should be adopted (i.e. who owns or should own the data). All these challenges should not be addressed independently and answers to those vary greatly depending on the type of organisations and the objectives to be achieved. 

How network operators and local authorities can make the most of the data currently available, in a secure way, and still satisfy their customer needs is a critical question. Two key points to consider are:

1. Data interoperability is key to achieve the full benefits of digitalisation. An independent data broker role between different data providers should be used in order to link various internal and external data sets together. This role can be fulfilled by either the private or public sector. 

2. Local authorities need to understand the impact of new mobility systems which have developed as a result of digitalisation, in order to plan with them rather than compete, e.g. how Uber and Lyft have impacted the use of more conventional transport systems (e.g. bus networks) and to what extent.  

Taking this a step further, digitalisation gives us the opportunity to do things differently and truly respond to citizens’ needs, for instance, by  allowing car-pooling for commuting (e.g. Wayz-Up in France) or pop-up microbus systems (e.g. Bridj in the US).  However, these new mobility systems are still yet to be proved resilient, as demonstrated by the closure of Kutsuplus last year (on-demand bus service in Helsinki). This is partly due to the difficulty of achieving the right scale to make the economics of ride sharing really work (i.e. cost of the ride vs. benefit).

That said, it is evident that data can support transport planning and add significant value to our city infrastructure but the challenge lies in getting the balance right to ensure we are in a position to take advantage of this market. 

UK & Europe,

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is one such innovation, providing a new approach to the way in which transport is delivered, managed and consumed. Often talked about conceptually, over the past year we have seen growing interest in thoughts of practically delivering MaaS – driven on by the launch of MaaS Finland, which will oversee the launch of MaaS across the Nordic country.

What is MaaS?

"Mobility as a Service brings every kind of transport together into a single intuitive mobile app. It seamlessly combines transport options from different providers, handling everything from travel planning to payments. Whether you prefer to buy journeys on demand or subscribe to an affordable monthly package, MaaS manages your travel needs in the smartest way possible." MaaS Finland.

The easiest way to think about MaaS is to compare it to your mobile phone subscription. Your network provider may offer you a package deal, bundling a certain number of minutes, SMS messages and data. MaaS works in a similar way, offering different mobility packages to consumers, covering access to a range of modes, for example a monthly package might be made up of:

  • 30 public transport rides
  • 20 hours of car hire time
  • Unlimited bike hire
  • 5 taxi trips

Consumers would select the most appropriate package, opening up a range of modes for easy use through one integrated service.

The case for MaaS

For the consumer, MaaS will deliver an improved journey experience through the increased choice, easier journey planning and seamless ticketing and payment that MaaS promises. Replacing car ownership with a MaaS subscription could also deliver financial savings to users who no longer need to pay for a car that, according to Forbes, sits empty for 95% of the day on average.

For the public sector, part of the business case for supporting MaaS relates to the numerous public policy goals that MaaS supports – such as improving network efficiency. The cost of congestion to the UK economy is £4.3bn per year, and MaaS could help relieve this through more efficient use of the transport network, with a reduction in single occupancy vehicle usage. The knock on effect of this supports other policy goals – such as improving air quality, which would help reduce the 40,000 deaths each year in the UK that are attributed to poor air quality.

The benefits for the private sector will come from capturing a fraction of the £324 per month that the average UK household spends on travel. Furthermore, the data generated by MaaS will create opportunities for new business models to emerge.

Delivering MaaS in UK cities

At Atkins we’ve been working with our clients to unpack the case for MaaS, such as in the West Midlands where we have been working with the Integrated Transport Authority. Whilst there is still much work to be done across the sector, we believe the potential benefits of MaaS are clear. Our thoughts are therefore turning to how MaaS can be delivered within UK cities, a topic that I will be exploring at the Smarter Travel Live Conference 2016.

For more information on MaaS, read our Journeys of the Future White Paper.

UK & Europe,

I was therefore delighted when I heard that my mobile will soon take over the interface to my car. This year alone, three giants – Microsoft, Google and Apple – have announced their forthcoming ‘connected car’ platforms. Apple already has CarPlay, Google seems to have something in the works with its Open Automotive Alliance, and Microsoft revealed its ‘Windows for the car’. They all aim to bring the functionality of your mobile device right to your vehicles' center console. And vehicle manufactures, such as Peugeot-Citroen are also creating app develop platforms to deliver an in-vehicle ecosystem of smartphone apps.

But legally, I’m not allowed to use my mobile phone in my car while driving. Route guidance to each of my appointments, along with a few tunes, is of course allowed but will I be allowed to use all the extra functionality without breaking the law or corporate safety policy? Well if the net change in safety is positive then I think that could be a ‘yes’. 

And this is a real possibility with the transition from Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) to Cooperative ACC (CACC). CACC trials are moving at some pace with the UK’s first CACC project just started by the UK-CITE consortium members featuring Jaguar Land Rover. The project includes a 41 mile test route capable of testing both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure systems on public roads. 

CACC allows a group of vehicles to communicate with each other using a dedicated short range communication creating Vehicular Ad-Hoc Networks (VANeTs). This allows cellular networks to share speed, heading, location, and gap information. CACC systems are expected to provide a number of 'over the horizon' warning systems including: collaborative emergency breaking; emergency vehicle ‘red’ routes; advanced incident warnings; junction stop alerts; do not pass warnings; icy roads ahead, etc. 

And what’s happening to all my data? I don’t want some big corporate to have it for free but I don’t mind my data being used if I benefit or I contribute to the greater good. Aggregating data from connected mobile devices and apps, and uploading it to a traffic management system, introduces a whole new dimension. All the vehicles in my CACC platoon will receive synchronized instruction on the best routes and given a traffic signal ‘green wave’ along that route.

And this data will help improve our simulations of CACC systems, providing better models of human and machine behaviour. Simulations of the humans, vehicles, communications and infrastructure are appearing widely in academia, and Atkins will be developing a more complete simulation platform as part of the recently started FLOURISH Innovate UK project. This test platform will help plan new infrastructure and services that deliver secure, safe and great value CACC systems, as well as ensuring other schemes can work with CACC systems. 

So I look forward to 2016 to see if the safety and efficiency benefits can keep ahead of the mobile app distractions. I expect this year we’ll see a boom in apps around in-vehicle messages, with popular apps on real issues like fuel saving, vehicle servicing and insurance. With driver communities like Waze I wouldn’t be surprised to see ‘cooperative awareness messages’ available to members of the same community, which might be the first steps to CACC. I’m very interested in the data from these apps and we could see these communities taking control of their own data and selling it to predictive modellers like me.  I’ll think about this data as I drive around with my mobile device slowly, but surely, taking over more aspects of running my life.

UK & Europe,

However, why is it taking place now?  What are the drivers that make this such a thriving opportunity that it's attracting significant investment and increasing in popularity year on year? Just looking at the growth of number of vehicles available globally for car sharing, in 2010 it was almost 32,000 and in 2014 this jumped to over 92,000.  Taking a look how some European neighbours compare:

Car sharing in Europe

I live in the UK, and though we are very technology aware and innovation friendly, I am not sure why we are lagging behind in this area.  Perhaps it’s a cultural thing! I guess we struggle to talk to people on the underground so jumping in a car with a complete stranger may be a bit of a challenge for us?

In an excellent article last year by Lauren Hepler she sets out why we are only just at the beginning of this car sharing journey, alongside some of the key movers and shakers and the type of business models that are emerging.  It certainly shows the private sector is investing in developing propositions to meet user demand with the range of business models that Lauren outlines.

One of the key issues for many is the cost of car ownership and the research supports this. For example, Zipcar research found that 53% of millennials consider car ownership out of their reach. In fact, more than half said they would drive less if other transportation options were available, such as public transportation, car sharing, and ride sharing and 35 percent said they are actively looking for alternatives to car. 

This is clearly a threat to car makers and they are making moves not to be left behind, BMW with its DriveNow proposition and the investment by General Motors in Lyft, or Moovel, as part of Mercedes-Benz, to mention just a few.

So, car sharing feels a fast moving and very exciting sector of Intelligent Mobility but I am left wondering about the narrow focus on the availability of these services, focused on cities, millennials and those who are privileged enough to own premium cars.  I can see they are an important part of the modal mix so how can we make them available for all sectors of society?  

I think there needs to be a business model developed that optimises the vehicle (after all, the average car spends 96.5% of its life parked) that provides a range of services throughout the day and reduces pressure on budgets for the public sector.

I call this proposition Total Transport; community focused transport that cuts across public sector budget silos yet is delivered by the private sector. This optimises the use of their assets and therefore means they can provide services at a reduced cost compared to the public sector. Car sharing solutions could provide the opportunity for this to be realised, and form part of the overall proposition for Mobility as a Service. 

So, my prediction for 2016 for car sharing is that there will be at least one brave private sector operator that develops a solution that not only provides mobility services to millennials but also work in partnership with a city to provide social services such as home to school transport, journeys to day centres, demand responsive transport, etc.

What do you think?

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Join the Intelligent Mobility group now and meet a community of professionals ready to embrace the future

UK & Europe,

Last month Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, boasted how Londoners and visitors from around the world are embracing the use of contactless technology across the city’s transport network  - with an impressive array of statistics to back up the claim. 27% of all pay as you go journeys on tube and rail services are now made using contactless, contributing to a staggering 300 million journeys since the initial role out of the technology across the network with one million transactions per day.

Contactless in the UK
Transport for London (TfL) first began accepting contactless card payments in December 2012 on London buses. A further roll out in September 2014 brought contactless payments to the tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, and most National Rail services in London. And it seems this growth is set to continue – with TfL announcing that all London black cabs will accept contactless payments from October 2016 . Contactless payments on London transport have been so successful that around one in seven of all contactless transactions in the UK now take place on London transport.

The success of contactless payments isn’t just limited to TfL’s network - last month it was reported that contactless payments in general now constitute as much as 10% of all payments - an impressive proportion given only a year before the same figures stood at 3.7% . There is therefore a clear appetite for contactless payment from much of the public.

So whilst contactless payment has become the norm for London commuters and visitors, what of the rest of the UK? In my home city of Birmingham, transport operators are yet to adopt contactless payment – though the Swift Card (Birmingham’s answer to the Oyster Card) is finally being rolled out. Meanwhile Manchester – which ditched plans for a its own version of the Oyster Card late last year  - is looking to adopt on-board contactless payments across its network at some point in the future. 

If our leading cities are struggling to adapt to contactless payments – London excused– what of rural transport networks? With cuts to council funding, many rural bus services face the threat of reduced subsides , so it seems unlikely that investment in technology to accept contactless payments will come soon. 

There is perhaps one glimmer of hope for all those public transport users outside London – the recent announcement of a national framework for the UK wide roll out of contactless payments across train and bus networks . What’s interesting to note about this framework is that it isn’t led by government or transport operators, but by the card payments industry itself, in the form of The UK Card Association. This development is a positive move that could eventually lead to the use of contactless payments across the UK transport network, though it will be down to traditionally conservative transport operators to push forward with the proposals.

And what about the end user? Whilst many younger people are happy to use contactless payment, does the age-old claim that older people struggle to adapt to new technologies apply here? In such cases it’s useful to look wider to learn from other experiences, for example the impact of the closure of high-street banks. Many forecasted that older people would be hardest hit by bank closures , and whilst it’s regretful if some older people have been negatively affected, many more have adapted to this new reality and have taken to online banking in droves – as evidenced by research showing that ‘silver surfers’ are the fastest adopters of digital banking.

One bank deployed an age-simulation suit for use by staff so that they could experience some of the physical effects of ageing. The suits limit movement using weights and mimic sight and hearing deficiencies, and helps staff test how easy it is for older people to use branch, internet and telephone banking services .

We should learn from this, and help older people adapt to new technologies rather than presuming their ignorance. There is no reason older people, already users of debit and credit cards, could not use contactless payment – after all, bus users in London adapted to the suspension of cash payments on TfL’s bus network in July 2014.

So what for the year ahead? My prediction for 2016 is perhaps quite mundane: that contactless payments will continue steady growth – with the proportion of payments by NFC equipped phones and other devices also rising. I also predict that we will see transport users continuing to expect, and perhaps demand, that contactless payment technology on public transport outside London become normalised – particularly on the National Rail network, as technology savvy commuters expect more for their money.

> To continue the discussion on Intelligent Mobility, please join our dedicated LinkedIn Group

UK & Europe,

The investment Uber received in such a short period is stunning - as shown in the graphics below, so they must be doing something right, as I’m sure investors will have carried out their due diligence.

Uber timeline

Uber value

I’m certainly an Uber convert too! In fact, on my first visit to Dubai they provided an indispensable service on a couple of occasions. Despite that, I had cause to complain, yet within minutes of my email I had received a response and a full refund, so I can't fault their customer service.

Their rapid globalisation (over 375 cities at the time of writing this) and service diversification such as UberPool, personal and business profiles with expense reporting, UberRush and UberEats – all demonstrate aspects of growth and innovation that most emerging Intelligent Mobility organisations would be envious of.

Yet, despite the apparent business success, they tend to receive negative press coverage… although some of this may be of their own making (i.e. kid’s toys to pacify drunk passengers). There have been some serious allegations regarding passenger safety and city authorities around the world continue to question and challenge the Uber model.

There have been arguments over drivers (or are they contractors?) and their remuneration, including examples where unions have backed legal action against the company. Traditional taxi drivers have caused gridlock in protests over Uber, with demonstrations in London and Paris in 2015 and 2016. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a whole lot more that I haven't got time to write about!

So, why the “Love it or hate it” question for Uber? Surely we need this kind of technology and business model innovation for Intelligent Mobility to thrive? Isn't Uber’s growth just a reality of a commercial landscape, where either you innovate or die?

I would love to hear your view. Do you “love them or hate them” and why?

My prediction for 2016 for Uber isn't exactly ground breaking. They will continue to grow both geographically and by diversifying their service offerings. However, we may see ‘counter innovation’ from SMEs in cities that offer local services for local people that are focused on doing social good for all sectors of society. These two models will co-exist, perhaps not happily, but market forces will come in to play and we’ll see demand drive adoption and further innovation.

To continue the discussion on Intelligent Mobility, please join our dedicated LinkedIn Group

UK & Europe,

Google cars are after covering millions of miles, the UK Government has announced a second round of winners in their £20m competition, test sites are springing up around the world (M-City, ZAVI, Bristol, etc), platooning and connected trucks and cars are being tested on real roads in real conditions ( The world of fantasy is now real and it’s worth looking at some of the positives and negatives that this throws up. 

Google car has been involved in over twice the amount of accidents than normal cars, but in an alarming examination of the facts, it can be seen that the accidents are caused by car’s rear ending it as it looks to obey the rules of the road. Rules and the human interpretation of them, such as when to cross a white line, or the ‘aggression index’ as others call it, has not been mapped to the car’s behaviour. In fact, caution is the operating principle. Isn’t it surprising that by following the rules, being cautious and looking to make safety the prime focus, even more accidents are caused by humans, you and I, looking for the Google car to move in a more imaginative and potentially dangerous way…. 

Insurance is another aspect of this world, with announcements from Volvo that it would cover all accidents involving autonomous vehicles. That cannot be underestimated. A car company is now looking to be an insurance provider. The business models are changing and the ‘new world’ of data and information forces car manufacturers to adopt a different approach to client creation. Recent announcements highlight the fact that local authorities are examining the value in having a central white line. This has an impact on all vehicles but what might it mean for autonomous vehicles, both in terms of the technology used to guide their systems, but also the calculation of insurance? Decisions taken today have an impact on the rate, the scale and the investment needed around this new sector.   

Opening up the impact and the ecosystem around autonomous vehicles, the use of shared services in autonomous mode is becoming increasingly more prevalent in discussions. Take the recent investment ($500m) by GM in the car sharing provider Lyft. This shows that the landscape and the delivery channel to the customer is going to be completely different. The autonomous car, and its close cousin the connected vehicle, are part of that Mobility as a Service solution and transport jigsaw. Mention of the connected vehicle throws up an interesting and a very pressing question. What should road authorities do now in order to take advantage of the future? The answer is that cities and authorities must start now to understand the business case around infrastructure deployments to take advantage of the vast realms of data that will be travelling in and around the vehicles. 

And what about the very near future, what will it entail? My prediction for 2016 is twofold: firstly, I firmly believe that people will become increasingly interested in the ‘converging marketplace’, where connected and autonomous and Internet of Things look to create a digital ecosystem and service layer. The second, and this is vital for the network operators, is that cities and Government will create harmonised policies and long term strategies around connected and autonomous vehicles and the value chains that they enable. 

Join the Intelligent Mobility group now and meet a community of professionals ready to embrace the future and read our Connected and Autonomous Vehicles report here.

UK & Europe,

The potential of “Pop-up transit” is now starting to feature in the thinking of authorities and operators responsible for managing some of the five billion or so bus journeys that we make each year in the UK. What may be exciting to these policy makers, regulators and procurers of mobility, is the emergence of Pop-up transit operators such as Bridj in the US, and Kutsuplus in Finland, and what this means for the UK. So what is Pop-up transit? 

There is no common definition for Pop-up transit, so it is perhaps easier to describe what it looks like from the passenger perspective. Imagine using an App to request a bus ride when you want it and where you want it – you may pay more than you would on a traditional bus, but less than in a taxi.

A key feature that differentiates Pop-up transit from existing demand responsive transit (aka dial-a-ride) is the ability for bus routings to be dynamically managed using a range of data sources. The use of data analytics to efficiently service real-time demand is crucial to offering passengers a competitive tariff whilst also providing as close to a “door to door” service as possible.

Much of what is new about the Pop-up transit model is enabled by innovation using the same data and communication technologies that are supporting adoption of Intelligent Mobility in other parts of the transport industry. This means that it may be that the policy and politics holds back progress rather than the technology itself.

The potential market for Pop-up transit is significant given the key reasons travellers use the car are flexibility and convenience, and it is against these features that Pop-up transit is positioned. Recent research commissioned by the Transport Systems Catapult shows that being able to travel when you want is the most important attribute to travellers (49%) and public transport is more likely to be chosen when it is easily accessed (47%). It is not surprising then, that the flexibility and convenience of Pop-up transit could be an attractive proposition for many of us, especially in our urban areas. 

It is too early to tell if Pop-up transit will become wide-spread. Moreover the operators, new business models and most importantly the policy and regulation influences, need to be considered carefully. Atkins is currently exploring these issues with our clients, particularly around the devolution agenda and changes in funding models.  

Meanwhile on the operator side, new entrants to the market will need to focus on managing the PR and politics risks that could otherwise constrain growth, and there may be lessons learned from Uber in this respect.

With uncertainty ahead, it is important for authorities to investigate rather than ignore the potential for Pop-up transit so that future investment, public or private, provides both economic as well as social benefits on the ground. Looking to the future, is it likely that pop-up transit will become the cool cousin of the bus, or will it be part of business as usual for our existing operators? How far can it support the policy objectives of our city authorities, and will it be effective in eroding the dominance of the car on our daily journeys? Perhaps most importantly, the question is whether Pop-up transit will be embraced by our policy makers and supported by the industry regulators over the next few years, or will it be left to its own devices?

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UK & Europe,

Dubai has moved another important step forward towards its smart city goals this month with the passing of the Dubai Open Data Law.

This will allow the sharing of non-confidential data between government entities and other stakeholders – an essential move which provides the legislative framework for Dubai to progress into a Smart City.

It catapults Dubai alongside the most progressive and developed cities on the planet. What’s really impressive is the level of leadership buy-in for the new law: it has been sponsored by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and General Supervisor of Dubai Smart City. Not only that, but it was announced by none other than His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai.

What this tells us, if there was ever any doubt, is that Dubai is very serious about becoming a smart city – it has all the backing that it needs so we can expect activities to keep moving in the right direction and for the legislation to progress quickly along the principles outlined by the Open Data committee earlier this year.

The law opens the door for a new wave of data enabled services using technologies such as cloud computing and will encourage a new wave of significant investment in Dubai’s digital economy.

The result – and the aims of any smart city – will be to enable better, more efficient and responsive public services and allow the private sector to supply innovative solutions which really meet the needs of end users. Service providers – both public and private sector – will be able to use open data to better understand, predict and respond to the needs of their customers.

Another linked key benefit will be in how the Open Data law will enable the development of intelligent mobility and support for driverless vehicles (read the Atkins whitepaper on driverless vehicles here) which require open data to operate. Cities already benefiting from this include London, New York and Singapore – providing their citizens with the first generation of new solutions where mobility is delivered as a service, and where people can engage with multiple transport options easily.

Atkins is now working closely with many cities to help them create a vision for “Journeys of the Future” using Open Data; these are the exciting first steps to the driverless vehicle services that we can realistically expect to appear in volume as we approach 2025.

Nevertheless, there are still important hurdles to leap. Even when open data legislation is in place, there will need to be an appropriate level of governance, business transformation, education and behavioural change. The Open Data Law will need other changes in insurance and liability law which are equally complex before we embrace a very new way of using transport as a set of universally available services.

These are significant practical issues, but the biggest will be data and cyber security. As our world becomes more interconnected and reliant on Open Data sources then cyber-attacks become more able to damage the feeds and our use of them. Similarly as driverless vehicles use the new generation of wifi standards (802.11p etc.) for information on traffic lights, accidents, other car positions etc, the need for a strong cyber protection architecture will become critical. Only then will we truly be able to move from driver assist options to true autonomous vehicles linked to everyone’s smart phone and position, ready for whenever they need mobility as a service.

However, these are challenges which will be faced by every leading city, and Dubai is with the leading pack – a trailblazer for the region.

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Middle East & Africa,

Interest in Intelligent Mobility is rapidly developing in the freight sector as operators, transport authorities and consumers look to new technologies and business models to achieve better outcomes.

To date, innovation in the freight sector has been a key focus of the operators themselves; improving cost efficiency, fuel efficiency, payload maximisation and journey time reliability.  This has undoubtedly had beneficial impacts, however there remains significant potential for further innovation.

We are seeing many signs that in the future, freight operators will offer a more integrated and consumer centric service.  This is will lead to highly individualised delivery options, reverse delivery services (where you can “send from your door”), and new ways of supporting the brand value of the products delivered.

Intelligent Mobility (IM) will undoubtedly continue to drive innovation in the sector and the near-term IM market opportunities include the growth of peer-to-peer delivery platforms and innovation such as:

  • Shutl – a service which offers a platform for buying and selling empty space on freight vehicles
  • Picknpass – an App that “hires” people moving from A to B as part of their daily routine to deliver goods to business and private customers
  • CycleEye – a road user safety technology which uses sensors to identify cyclists in potentially dangerous proximity to HGVs and is of particular interest to highway authorities.

Longer term opportunities are likely to develop as part of the growing sharing economy and we expect autonomous vehicle technology, on land and in the air, to play a bigger part in the sector.  There is also an exciting development to use underground tunnels to move bulk goods under full automatic control – the Innovate UK-funded Mole project.

Regardless of which IM technologies rise and fall in the market, the potential for data platforms that “understand” the supply and demand for freight look extremely interesting.  Future innovation in this space may mean that authorities can visualise empty space available in freight vehicles, and use sentiment mapping to analyse levels of HGV driver frustration in congested networks.  Such information is likely to attract political interest in supporting the industry to provide better value to our urban systems.

There is significant opportunity for IM to transform the freight sector and we see the following key building blocks as important steps to engaging authorities to help achieve success:

  • Building evidence to support change: quantifying existing inefficiency in the city/freight system
  • Partnership working: between urban authorities and the freight sector
  • Leadership in policy and regulation: cities must consider their role in leading on Intelligent Mobility adoption.

So to conclude, some of the outcomes of the predicted changes to the industry will undoubtedly require strong political leadership, but the gains that IM capabilities can deliver, in terms of less congestion, safer streets and economic growth, warrant close examination by key stakeholders in the industry.

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For decades local authorities have invested heavily in collecting motor vehicle count data on their networks. Such data is the life blood of our transport models and is vital to help traffic managers make decisions on how they manage the highway. But to date many authorities have struggled to make the case for monitoring the behaviours of an often equally important user – the cyclist and pedestrian even though understanding these users could help attract significant funding.

Why is this? Well the obvious answer is that these active travel modes make up a relatively small proportion of highway users and therefore don’t warrant data collection investment. Other arguments are linked with the challenges of obtaining statistically significant results on what can be a relatively small number of journeys. Furthermore, there can be many measurement points that need to be monitored to get a good understanding of the route choices made by pedestrians and cyclists and this can make monitoring too expensive. These types of arguments can be bundled up to often mean that for reasons of “proportionality”, active mode data collection doesn’t happen. But the counter argument is that to make more liveable towns and cities we need to support active travel modes, and political will to do this has been sustained for some time, from the Prime Minister down.

From DfT and Highways England, down to individual borough councils, we consistently see policy aspiration to do more for active travel modes. So is now the time to fill the gaps in the data used to understand our pedestrians and cyclists? We think so, but key questions must be asked around which technologies work and does the business case stack up to use them.

One progressive authority in this area is Transport for Greater Manchester where we have recently won a commission to trial a new type of vision based count technology. The technology has the potential to count pedestrians and cyclists in near real-time by recognising the shapes of these users just like a human enumerator would. The technology uses machine learning to learn what a pedestrian and cyclist looks like amongst a mix of traffic and because the marginal costs are low we may see this type of technology being used to offer a Data as a Service model to our clients. Even if a DaaS model doesn’t gain traction, the technology could offer advantages over traditional data collection in terms of reduced error rates, larger sample sizes and more robust data to support to our models.

Ultimately such technology may help our clients develop a better understanding of the preferences and behaviours of cyclists and pedestrians. Better information will undoubtedly result in more informed decisions and help the active modes be better represented our investment decisions.

We are looking to build the capabilities of this type of technology through a number of future trials and in parallel with this investigate the business case for investing in DaaS type services. What is particularly interesting is the potential to find new ways of funding more sophisticated data collection e.g. by using existing CCTV assets. And we may find new revenue streams for authorities to sell their data to third parties such as retailers and those responsible for monitoring the security of our urban areas.

How do you see better data collection technology supporting the needs of pedestrians and cyclists in our cities?

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UK & Europe,

I frequently read articles and heated commentary in the media related to connected and autonomous vehicles, but it’s not always clear that these are two distinct technologies. The terms are often used incorrectly, which creates misconceptions about one or the other—and this confusion can actually stall progress when implications are incorrectly applied where they do not belong.

So what’s the difference? Which one helps me get home faster by avoiding traffic congestion and which one helps me avoid auto-collisions?

Connected Vehicles (CVs)

Simply stated, connected vehicle technologies allow vehicles to communicate with each other and the world around them. Your vehicle is likely already more connected than you realize. Navigation systems already include connected vehicle functionality, such as dynamic route guidance. Your GPS-based system receives information on congestion in the road ahead through cellular signals (4G LTE or 3G) and suggests an alternative route.

The connected vehicle concept is about supplying useful information to a driver or a vehicle to help the driver make safer or more informed decisions. Use of a “connected vehicle” doesn’t imply that the vehicle is making any choices for the driver. Rather, it supplies information to the driver, including potentially dangerous situations to avoid.

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has been working on a CV program that communicates within a radio spectrum specifically allocated by the Federal Communications Commission in 1999 for this purpose. And by the end of this year, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration will propose a rule mandating inclusion of 5.9 GHz-based equipment in all new vehicles to make them CV-ready. This technology has the potential to eliminate 80 percent of unimpaired crash scenarios that could save tens of thousands of lives each year.

Without compromising personal information, this technology will also enable transportation agencies to access vehicle data related to speed, location and trajectory—enabling better management of traffic flow as the ability to address specific problems in real-time. So in addition to sending information to the driver, CVs will send information to transportation agencies to enhance their knowledge of real-time road conditions, as well as generate historic data that will help agencies better plan and allocate future resources (which are typically stretched far too thin). By deploying roadside equipment, which reads and sends signals to and from these vehicles, transportation agencies can fully participate in the nationwide deployment of the connected vehicle system.

Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

Some vehicles are already being deployed with autonomous functionality, such as self-parking or auto-collision avoidance features. But, until a vehicle can drive itself independently, it is not a true autonomous vehicle (AV). A fully autonomous vehicle does not require a human driver—rather, they are computer-driven. Most manufacturers will phase in various levels of autonomy until fully autonomous vehicles are widely tested and accepted by the general public.

Unlike connected vehicles, transportation agencies have little control over the deployment of these autonomous vehicles or the technology they use—this is controlled by the private sector companies who are building them, and responding to market forces. However, there are some actions agencies can do now to help encourage deployment of autonomous vehicles. For example, some agencies are already working to improve road striping and signage that will aid autonomous vehicles’ recognition of the road. Agencies can also encourage and support policies that will further AV deployment, such as certification policies, licensing rules, and following distance standards.

Autonomous vehicles do not need connected vehicle technology to function since they must be able to independently navigate the road network. However, CV technologies provide valuable information about the road ahead—allowing rerouting based on new information such as a lane closures or obstacles on the road. By incorporating CV technology, AVs will be safer, faster, and more efficient.

Furthermore, virtually all autonomous vehicles will require some form of connectivity to ensure software and data sets are current. As autonomous vehicles rely on knowing the roadway they are traveling on, changes to the roadside such as new development or construction will require the type of real-time exchange of information that CV technology provides.

While a complex task, transportation agencies need to be ready to support both connected and autonomous vehicles. By making the best use of technology, setting specific time frames for deployments, and addressing specific regional/geographic needs, we’re working to help our clients bring both connected and autonomous vehicles to the road.

The North America CAV report is available to access here (PDF).

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North America,

When Masdar took on the idea of driverless pods for its zero carbon city in Abu Dhabi, it still seemed closer to the cartoon world of The Jetsons than something that would be hitting our streets anytime soon.

Technology moves at an incredible pace, however, and it is rapidly catching up to make the idea of driverless vehicles a reality. Major automotive manufacturers are now investing serious money to keep at the head of the herd (or at least to be in the race!), while tech giant Google and taxi-hailing app Uber are blazing their own trails.

The Middle East, where gas-guzzling 4x4s are still the vehicle of choice among many, seems unlikely territory for what we now call Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) to take off. There are, however, some compelling reasons to suggest the region could be among the early adopters.

First among these is the fact that some environments are particularly well suited to CAVs. Yes, eventually we’re going to see driverless vehicles on our public roads and highways but in the meantime, one of the most practical applications for them could be in and around major airports.

The traffic within airports is closely monitored, regulated and predictable. What’s more, there’s a surprising amount of it; just think of all the servicing needs for fuel, maintenance, catering, baggage, staff and so on – this is an ideal environment for CAVs. Inside terminals too, they could be applied for basic small-scale transportation needs.

The UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are all home to, or in the process of developing, among the largest and most advanced airports in the world. It’s not difficult, therefore, to see why the Middle East could be at the forefront of investing in CAV technologies.

The region’s property developers are also sure to see the value of CAVs for the typical semi-closed and controlled private developments which are prevalent. The CAV concept offers an attractive, futuristic selling point, but more importantly it has the potential to reduce traffic impact to provide a better, cleaner and safer living environment. It may also allow infrastructure (and associated cost) to be reduced in size, so the benefits are impressive.

I’ve just mentioned the value of improved safety that driverless vehicles offer, and longer term this is likely to be a key reason for bringing CAVs onto public roads in the region. Human error is commonly cited to be responsible for between 80-90% of road accidents. What easier way, then, to slash the number of crashes than by simply taking humans out of the equation?

This would go hand in hand with the ambitions of regional governments to be at the forefront of creating smarter, more resilient and sustainable cities of the future. Integration of state-of-the-art driverless vehicles is part of this vision and will happen.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has already commissioned studies into not only CAVs, but electric vehicles as well, as part of its wider smart city agenda. Expo 2020 could be an ideal platform for sharing ideas and inspiration with the rest of the world – let’s not forget that Dubai is already a leader in adopting driverless technology thanks to its metro, which was designed to be driverless from the outset.

The region will, of course, face many of the same barriers and challenges to CAV deployment as others. Governments will need to review and adapt public policies and regulations, change traffic laws and set clear technical standards. Of key importance will be the need to bring different stakeholders together to work collaboratively towards the same goals.

So while embracing CAVs in the Middle East is not without its challenges – including the need to encourage people to park up their beloved V8s – I wouldn’t bet against cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha or Riyadh being among the first to take the technology mainstream. And in the meantime, Masdar’s early foray into driverless pods looks to have been impressively prescient.

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Middle East & Africa,

There are a variety of ways connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV’s) are currently being tested to advance their widespread progression to our roads. There are many parties involved—all playing a role in the process. The following testing methods are helping to ensure this technology will be highly functional in large-scale deployment environments.

Pilot Deployment Testing

Pilot programs provide the opportunity to test in less-than-ideal situations and real-world testing is key to understanding how to improve functionality. Testing is not always about working within a clean, ideal environment—most need to involve challenging environments that must be conquered.

On September 14, the United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) announced its awards for connected vehicle pilot deployment programs will go to New York City, NY; Tampa, FL; and WY. These cities and regions will receive up to $42 million to pilot next-gen technology in infrastructure and connected vehicles. The US DOT is also planning to support deployments in other cities and regions throughout the country, which will lead to even more successful larger-scale deployments. We’ll be able to see how connected and autonomous vehicles function and interact in a multi-modal environment at many different speeds, surrounded by pedestrians, bicyclists and non-connected vehicles.

Closed Track Testing

On the other hand, closed track testing is valuable for testing in an ideal, clean environment. Simultaneous to pilot testing, many organizations are developing closed track testing facilities. Repurposed airports, military bases, and even greenfield facilities across the country are being developed into facilities for closed track testing in places like New Jersey, Texas, Florida, California, and Michigan. These facilities are especially important to understand how to improve automated (or driverless) vehicles. For example, poorly striped and signed roads are a particular challenge for driverless cars. Closed tracks in various regions provide testing across different climates and weather environments. Some tracks are even capable of simulating their own varied weather situations.

Most importantly, the closed track environment allows near real-world testing for safety-critical applications without risking impact to other road users. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) is currently developing testing standards which will help unify the various testing efforts, creating a common baseline of quality and safety.

Certification Testing

Certification testing measures and evaluates a particular aspect of a system’s performance using standardized metrics. A certification program may include one or several aspects of performance. For example, interoperability certification is currently specific to dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) testing. In the future, WiFi® and Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) testing may also be included in interoperability certification.

While all three are unique, these testing mechanisms have at least one thing in common—they all require input and cooperation of many involved parties. Pilot deployment testing involves input from dozens of stakeholders. Closed track testing involves engagement with users and standards developers. And certification testing involves engagement with equipment users, manufacturers, and test labs. This makes cooperation and collaborative partnerships perhaps the most critical component of improving and successfully deploying connected and autonomous vehicles.

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North America,

Whilst the UK is in a leading competitive position to support Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology development and testing, others across the world are not standing still. In Asia, Japan’s Nissan has set 2020 as the target year to have fully self-driving AVs available on the market, subject to regulatory approval. South Korea’s Hyundai is aiming for a step change in driver assistance systems from 2020 and commercialised applications of full driverless automation by 2030.

Two other countries, China and Singapore, are emerging as key players, both for production capability and early deployment at the city level to address transport and mobility challenges.

Baidu, the owner of China’s largest internet search engine, has in recent years carried out research into automated cars, working with auto manufacturers to test integration of hardware, sensors, control systems and software. The company is providing the city maps and cloud storage systems which cars will use in order to navigate. To date, testing has been largely confined to simulators and the laboratory, but it is understood may shift to a road-ready prototype onto the streets of Beijing by the end of 2015.

Baidu’s initiative is one of a number by Chinese companies, encouraged by the Government which is keen to see collaboration between auto makers and technology developers in such areas as navigation, systems automation and electric propulsion. Alongside Baidu, Leshi, a manufacturer of web-enabled TVs, has indicated its plans to invest in the development of a connected electric car as part of its wider diversification strategy; Alibaba, an e-commerce-firm has announced a fund to promote internet-enabled automobile technology in collaboration with SAIC Motor, and more are expected to follow.

Interestingly, Baidu’s approach differs from the approach taken by its US counterpart, Google, in purposefully not aiming to design a full-driverless car from scratch. Instead, the company sees the way forward as increasing levels of intelligent assistance to the driver and providing optional autonomy only when it is desired or needed. Hence, new cars will continue to have manual controls, and in the view of many, the role of the person in the driver’s seat will shift from that of an ‘active driver’ to that of a ‘supervisor’ who must be able to intervene or resume control whenever necessary. This different approach may make it easier for consumers to adapt to, and for public regulators to test and accept AV technology over time and license it for mainstream deployment within prevailing traffic laws and regulations.

China is seen by some as a more open market than the USA or Europe for the early AV adoption. This is not only down to the size of its domestic market and manufacturing capability, but also because of a perceived looser regulatory environment and less litigious track-record in the event of product faults, recalls or accidents. China’s poor road safety record and the strong interest in technology amongst consumers are also seen as making the market attractive for early adoption.

Elsewhere in Asia, the city state of Singapore has recognised the potential benefits from AVs working alongside traditional public transport. The opportunity for such vehicles to bridge first- and last-mile connections, particularly for the elderly and disabled, is seen as a strong benefit. Additionally, the prospect that AVs may reduce car ownership levels – as users share access to common vehicles – is held as an opportunity for urban mobility and land use planning in a city long regarded as “best in class” for its integrated transport policies, delivery and outcomes.

In August 2014, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced that it was setting up the Singapore Autonomous Vehicle Initiative (SAVI), to oversee and manage AV research, test-bedding and the development of applications by industry partners and stakeholders. It has now issued a Request for Information and will shortly assess the potential of proposals from manufacturers to test AV concepts in the One-North, a business park in Jurong, including demand-responsive vehicles and mass-transit operating on fixed routes and scheduled timings. Third-parties wishing to test their AVs must have safety procedures including immediate manual override as well as third party insurance, with much of the LTA Guidance matching the UK Code of Conduct for Testing of Driverless Cars, published in July 2015.

Several other AV trials are currently underway in Singapore, including SCOT, a low cost AV which has been jointly developed by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. SCOT was originally deployed on the NUS campus in 2011, with the first prototype being an adapted golf buggy. The latest version of SCOT is an adapted Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which uses LADAR sensors to navigate through an environment and is also able to drive through tunnels and other places where a GPS signal would normally be hindered.

These trials are particularly interesting since Singapore is of a scale, has a dynamic and technology-orientated Government and population, and a world-class track record in urban mobility planning that may enable proof-of-concept, operational applications and widespread AV deployment earlier than many other countries. SAVI is interested in the technical and statutory requirements underpinning such developments and keen to ensure Singapore reaps the full benefits that technology can offer.

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Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, North America, UK & Europe,

There’s no denying that Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) are coming. Lower levels of autonomous capability can already be seen in cars available today – such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping. But no-one really knows yet how long it will before highly autonomous vehicles are on our roads and how much time we have to benefit from their development.

We’re in a global race to exploit the economic opportunities provided by CAVs, from the intellectual property generated in the design of such vehicles, to their testing, validation and production. With our strong automotive heritage and history of innovation, the UK should be trailblazing the development of CAVs and reaping the economic rewards. The UK government’s Code of Practice for the testing of autonomous vehicles and ongoing CAV trials across the country – including VENTURER in Bristol, mean we are in a good starting position. But more must be done to build on this competitive advantage to ensure the UK benefits economically from the development of CAVs, before time beats us and we lose out in this global race.

Now is the time for greater investment to exploit the growth potential of this emerging industry. The UK must maximise the opportunities that regulation currently provides and aggressively target market growth in the areas of testing and validation. We must work to understand what society expects from CAVs, the expectations of different user groups and the challenges that will emerge in their adoption. Beyond this, we need to understand what CAVs will mean for the transport system as a whole and the opportunities they provide to deliver a more seamless travelling experience through journey management. In terms of mobility, we must also understand the opportunities provided to broaden travel horizons for those with limited mobility – such as the elderly, infirm and the young.

Alongside this, our cities must work to understand how CAVs will impact upon them – from changing travel behaviours to capacity management and vehicle emissions. They must also take action to prepare for the arrival of CAVs, by developing their highway and digital infrastructure – such as installing the infrastructure to support connected vehicle technologies – and ensuring they have a resilient and secure cyber network. At the same time, companies must look to how they can exploit this opportunity and develop new operating models to reap the reward.

Now is the time to act. We must continue to invest in CAV research and development and ensure we are best prepared for their arrival in order to maximise the opportunities this new technology brings.

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UK & Europe,

They’re coming. Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) are on their way. But there are lots of questions around their use and their value. Are we afraid of their arrival and should we be? The simple answer is no, but the fact of the matter is that we need to better understand what CAVs can offer us, and more importantly, we need to TRUST them. To get to that point, wouldn’t it make sense to have a way of validating the components and the systems around connected and autonomous vehicles so that we know how good they really are? Doesn’t it make sense to independently verify performance and have a real benchmark around the behaviours of CAVs? Ignoring the technology, isn’t it sensible to reach out to people, you and I, in order to understand what the real life concerns around CAV deployments actually are and come up with a solution that matches demand with supply?

Security is another huge question. A lot of questions and unknowns must be resolved before confidence in CAVs are established. How safe is a CAV from a cyber-attack, and how would you even know it is happening and if you did, what would you do about it? That is a question that must be answered not just by the owner, but by the cities and insurers also. The importance of monitoring cyber security across the physical and virtual network is paramount. The ability to assess, detect, counter, and survive a cyber-threat must be fundamental principles of operation, not just for CAV but across the whole digitisation of services. In order to get to that point and maintain a high level of confidence requires an understanding of how the physical and virtual world exist now and in the future and how your organisation is prepared to address this.

From a cities perspective, it’s also important to think about how CAVs can become part of the business as usual activities around network management. Imagine being able to tap into all that intelligence that will flow around one of these super computer on wheels, and really use it in a way that transforms network strategies and capacity optimisation. How can this be done in a way that links the old world with the new? How can this transition occur and who will take the lead? Again, from a customer experience, imagine the CAV being a virtual friend to the traveller, helping them and making their journey stress free. It really is a game changer and the opportunities are huge. But we have to get the fundamentals right.

What’s your angle?

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UK & Europe,

The transport sector has long had far-reaching ideas for how people and goods will get around in the future.

In 1961, for example, the American Weekend Magazine speculated:

“The Year 2000 will be the age of press-button transportation. Rocket belts will increase a man’s stride to 30 feet, and bus-type helicopters will travel along crowded air skyways. There will be moving plastic-covered pavements, individual hoppicopters and 200 mph monorail trains operating in all large cities. The family car will be soundless, vibrationless and self-propelled themostatically. The engine will be smaller than a typewriter. Cars will travel overland on an 18 inch air cushion.”

This particular vision of the future didn’t happen of course; and whilst the following 40 years did see great progress in personal mobility, freedom of movement and access to a wealth of opportunities, supported by modern motor cars and mass transit, it also gave us urban congestion, pollution and a public realm shaped more often than not by vehicles and concrete than for people.

In the 21st Century, many have once again taken out their crystal ball to contend that we are on the verge of a new technological revolution. In particular, there has been much talk about so-called “disruptive” technologies which are predicted to transform consumer experience and change society beyond recognition.

In a 2013 research piece, the McKinsey Global Institute lists 12 such technologies. To qualify as disruptive, each is classed as rapidly advancing or experiencing breakthroughs in innovation, having broad commercial reach, showing the potential to create significant economic and social value and, above all, radically challenging the status quo. The Mobile Internet, Cloud technology, 3D printing, renewable energy and next-generation genomics are all seen as fulfilling these conditions with profound public policy, economic and legal implications, and with impacts which cannot be fully predicted based on existing values, experience & business models.

In transport, we are facing a number of technologies which could arguably be described as disruptive on these grounds. These include:

  • The electrification of road transport, ranging from hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius now giving way to exploding sales of plug-in electric cars from the likes of Tesla, BMW and Nissan, and with breakthroughs in battery and energy storage expected in the early to mid-2020s;
  • Intelligent Mobility, with smart information and access to online services via personal devices, big data and the broader Internet of Things allowing travel to be commoditised, ordered and managed on demand in near real-time, threatening established transport operators as Uber has shown; and
  • Vehicle automation, with engineering, software and data becoming increasing integrated to the point that within a few years it will be technically possible to take the human driver out of the loop completely, with Google and others seeking to turn motor vehicles into “living spaces on wheels” for work, rest and play.

For many commentators, these technologies are not a question of “if” rather than “when.” Indeed, they are out of the test lab in some shape or form already, at demonstration stage or evolving from concept to commercial application.

They are also showing signs of converging. The car of the future is likely to be clean (to the point of zero-emission on-street), intelligent (able to steer and park itself) and connected (offering the user infotainment and other targeted personalised services rather than a focus on unproductive driving). And the companies behind this shift will be driven as much by licensing software (Apple, Google and Baidu making the running) as selling traditional automotive hardware (threatening Ford, Toyota and Mercedes).

Is it possible that within ten years from now, these converging technologies will have moved into the mainstream? There are clearly some sceptics, but ten years ago who would have anticipated the emergence and impacts of Wi-Fi, 4G and smart apps on the daily lives of millions? Steve Jobs launched the iPhone in June 2007, only 8 years ago. Now in 2015, who doesn’t crave the latest iPhone6 or its Android equivalent, constantly connected, on the move and tracked via Google, Twitter or WeChat? Already over 50% of the human population and 20% of motor vehicles of the planet are connected to mobile data services and the numbers are increasing in double digit proportions year on year.

In the transport sector, new technology clearly offers substantial benefits including increased safety, more efficient use of infrastructure and reduced emissions. From a user perspective, it offers the potential for greater personal productivity, accessibility and informed choice. And for businesses, it offers large operational efficiencies and the opportunity for targeting products and services to where they best add value and generate revenue. In each case, as Apple might say, “This changes everything.”

Perhaps, however, we should pause for a minute. In many areas, the vision of technology is running ahead of the practicalities of making it work in the here and now understanding consumer tastes, deciding ethics and enabling practices which are acceptable to policy makers and regulators. Sometimes, it can also be difficult to separate the blue sky claims for technology made in the latest company keynote or TED presentation from the more mundane realities of ease of use, reliability, cost and legality.

Again, as McKinsey comments:

“The link between hype and potential is not clear. Emerging technologies often receive a great deal of notice. News media know that the public is fascinated with gadgets and eager for information about how the future might unfold. The history of technology is littered with breathless stories of breakthroughs that never quite materialized. With the possible exception of the mobile Internet, there is no clear relationship between the amount of talk a technology generates and its potential to create value.”

This is good advice. The challenge for policy makers is to make sure they fully understand all sides of the technologies coming forward and make their own assessments based on hard evidence and structured analysis. And whilst the focus of this understanding will be on the next 10 to 20 years, there needs to be immediate and short-term attention on getting some fundamental building blocks in place linked to clear policies and standards and a clear roadmap of delivery.

Otherwise, we risk being as wrong about the future as many of the armchair scientists of the 1960s.

This text is a summary of a presentation on Transport and the Smart City given to the Annual Conference of the Hong Kong Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management in May 2015.

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Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, UK & Europe,

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) last week announced that it had terminated its contract with Atos to design, build and operate an Oyster-style smartcard across its transport network, with TfGM questioning whether the technology behind smart cards is now obsolete (source: The recent launch of Apple Pay in the UK, allowing London Underground commuters to swap out their Oyster card for their iPhone 6, suggests that TfGM may be right, with technology having progressed faster than many have realised. Given these developments, it is perhaps a good time to reflect on how such technologies could impact on how we interact with the transport networks around us.

The technology behind Apple Pay – mobile embedded near field communication (NFC) chips, similar technology used in contactless credit cards – is not new. The Japanese have had NFC enabled mobiles for over a decade, using their phones to pay for a variety of goods and services – from convenience stores to vending machines. The technology is now finely ingrained within the country’s transport network, covering buses, taxis, airline tickets, underground systems and of course, the Shinkansen high speed rail network. Apple and others like Google and Samsung are merely playing a rather delayed game of catch up, driven by the high adoption rate of smart phone technology, rising consumer expectations and improved connectivity.

The use of credit cards and NFC enabled devices marks a wider trend towards account based ticketing amongst transport service providers. Traditionally, transport system payments have been card based tickets (be it in the form of paper tickets or tokens), with a passenger buying a ticket or card, which gives them access to the transport network. Where access cards are used, such as the Oyster card, all information is held on the card itself. This approach, developed at a time when communications infrastructure were far slower than today, is an expensive one for transport operators – requiring sales infrastructure (ticket offices and machines), as well as the costs of producing and distributing the tickets themselves. Account based ticketing bypasses the need for a passenger to purchase tickets, theoretically allowing a passenger to gain access to the transport system through any form of contactless device linked to their payment account, such as an account card (Oyster), phone, watch or personal ID card.

The benefits for passengers to such an approach would be vast: mobile phones would become one-stop-portals for journey planning, ticketing and payment. Gone would be the days of worrying about having the correct change, or which ticket would be best for your journey – with the back office system calculating the cheapest price for your journey after its completion. Opportunities for further development are abound – from personalised and specific journey updates to truly flexible multi-modal journeys within one ticket – a vision set out in Atkins’ white paper on Journeys of the Future.

For operators, the benefits of account based ticketing are also persuasive. Lower upfront and ongoing costs for the technology will provide direct financial savings (operators will not have to issue, maintain and replace tickets or cards themselves), whilst mobile commerce and targeted advertising could provide a lucrative revenue stream. Account based ticketing also provides an opportunity for operational efficiency improvements, for example by improving the accuracy and speed of ticket checking, and providing authorities and operators with highly detailed passenger origin-destination data. Such are the benefits provided through this approach that TfL has announced its intentions to replace the technology in its Oyster Cards to allow for account based ticketing (source: Railway Gazette).

The key to this is the interoperability of account based ticketing systems and the expansion of such services. The ITSO standard was developed to ensure interoperability of smart card ticketing between transport operators in the UK, but has faced criticism over its slow progress (source: ITSO PDF). In securing the interoperability of account based ticketing systems, transport authorities and operators should consider the technical standards required, the customer experience of using the service and the opportunities the system creates for wider journey management.

Account based ticketing is one step towards improving the door-to-door journey experience for transport users, providing a customer centric approach to transport delivery and journey management. This will allow authorities and operators to better manage their transport assets, improve efficiencies and provide customers with personalised, accurate and specific details about their journey. As Apple transformed the music industry, journey management and the overall Intelligent Mobility market space offers similar opportunities for people and their mobility options, with account based ticketing being a step towards this which authorities and operators should be looking to harness.

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UK & Europe,

..for connected and autonomous vehicles. It’s been a busy time since Atkins was announced as the lead partner for Venturer; the Innovate UK funded autonomous vehicle consortium based in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. As I put the finishing touches to the whitepaper ‘Roads of the Future’ it is worthwhile reflecting on the growing interest in this emerging market.

People are really interested in connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs). The elderly, vulnerable, taxis, buses, freight, hire cars, insurance, communications, police, you and I, will all be influenced by the introduction of CAVs. Whether that is to share information between cars about incidents along routes or bad weather warnings, or to click a button and a car will drive you to your local bingo as you read the paper; the future is now and that is why people find it so fascinating.

I was recently invited to share my thoughts at Bristol’s Venturefest festival, and the following day invited into the Transport Systems Catapult’s ImagineFest festival to discuss what CAVs means from a policy and strategy perspective. Venturer aims to establish an independent urban test facility for the testing of elements associated with the deployment of CAV. This includes understanding peoples’ perception, not just technology or data; and exploring what people will get from CAVs, why will they want to use it, what must they accept and what will they not change. People drive change and it is vital that those in the CAV space fully understand this and reach out to test areas like Venturer to really grasp what it means for the future of their businesses.

Though an electrical engineer by qualification, I’ve been delighted to present at a number of Institute of Civil Engineer (ICE) meetings. It’s been really interesting hearing what people think and feel about connected and autonomous capability. The feedback has been amazing and lots of people are very keen to know when it will all happen and how it will link pieces of the transportation puzzle together. I also presented at the SMMT forum a little while back, and if you’re really interested, check out the video (best bits at 3:02 and 6:05)

I am also thrilled to be taking part in a BBC based STEM initiative later this month in Bristol. It is vital that people are encouraged to think about how the application of maths and engineering can enable world changing initiatives. The skills of this new world are yet to be defined, but encouraging the next generation to imagine a world where they are the designers, the creators, the developers of approaches and technology to a CAV based world is critical.

On the regulatory and policy front I’ve been delighted to share my thoughts on the new Code of Practice that the Department for Transport will publish. The approach is to position Britain at the forefront of CAV testing by providing a non-restrictive but sensible approach to testing. This will lead to significant job growth and IP creation.

It’s been a very busy time as the market responds to the challenges and opportunities that CAV provides and looks to leaders such as Atkins to provide thought leadership and direction. America, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Sweden are all looking to become the world’s testing ground for CAVs. Britain cannot afford to be content with what it has done to date. It must continue to invest and grow the test capability for connected and autonomous vehicles. The future is now, we must reach out and grasp the opportunities that it creates!

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UK & Europe,

Both intelligent mobility and the sharing economy will increasingly influence and transform the transport sector over the next decade. This was the crux of a debate organised by Atkins in partnership with Sharing Economy UK held on Tuesday evening.

The ‘question time’ style panel discussion was received by an audience of representatives from several Government departments and agencies, established transport sector businesses, SMEs, academia and the media. Delegates were presented with an opportunity to put questions to a panel comprising representatives from Atkins, Liftshare, Zipcar UK and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The debate addressed three core themes: what will transport look like in 2025, what will it mean for transport users, and what will be the impact for Central and Local Government and the transport sector? There was a clear consensus on the panel that intelligent mobility would make a significant difference and its possibilities were already being felt across the industry. New entrants into the transport sector are pushing ideas and boosting customer take-up of new services.

With a highly-engaged audience challenging the panellists on a range of issues, several key areas of concerns emerged:

  • Is access to smartphones and other enabling technology going to create a two-tier system of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’?
  • What will be the impact of the devolution agenda and is the future going to be driven by the public or private sector?
  • What will be the practical impacts of intelligent mobility and the sharing economy, particularly on issues such as sustainability, social inclusion and on freight and goods?
  • Is data critical to all of this; is there sufficient data security or will we become overly-reliant on fragile systems, as well as the fundamental importance of open data?
  • What role will satellite capabilities play in influencing the future role of intelligent mobility?

It was made evident that the sharing economy brings significant benefits to the future transport sector. In particular, the more efficient use of assets and the ability to provide mobility on demand in potentially all places and at all times – challenging the existing transport sector to up its game.

Intelligent mobility can have a similar impact; making use of new technologies and big data analytics to better understand and utilise transport capacity to more effectively manage the demand for mobility services and finding creative ways to incentivise user behaviours.

It is notable that around two-thirds of the audience had used Uber and slightly fewer had used a sharing economy business such as Airbnb or Zipcar, while around half had used the Citymapper app. Sharing economy panellists showed great enthusiasm about their businesses and the role of the peer to peer economy in improving outcomes for transport users and the transport network as a whole.

For Atkins there was a clear message – the sector is growing and an increasing number of people are interested in the vast potential of intelligent mobility and the sharing economy to shape how we fully utilise transport systems and what we can expect from it. We cannot deny the fact that the digital transport revolution is here but we can welcome and be excited by the opportunities it will present. These are ideas whose time has come.

The initial article on this topic is available to read here.

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UK & Europe,

Tomorrow evening Atkins will host a debate with Sharing Economy UK to discuss the future of transport and the potential impacts of intelligent mobility and the sharing economy. It is a timely debate with a number of developments starting to change the landscape of the transport sector.

In recent days, Ford, Opel and BMW-MINI have all announced new car sharing services that will allow car owners to rent out their personal vehicles when they aren’t being used. With car manufacturers enabling car owners to do this could we see transport taking the lead and Airbnb looking to emulate by partnering up with house builders?

In Helsinki, a showcase for the emerging concept of Mobility as a Service, the Transport Safety Agency is proposing offering tax incentives to motorists who share empty seats in their cars.

The trend of growing user preference for access to mobility over ownership is now becoming tangible in cities across the globe. Car clubs, car and bike sharing, lift sharing, as well as other new services like Uber, Lyft and Bridj are all starting to take hold and becoming a normal part of urban living.

There are of course a number of wider issues to consider. Ensuring everyone has access, including the (ever-diminishing) non-smartphone users, is vital; using these trends and technological advances to increase connectivity and social inclusion should be a policy priority; and integrating these new services into a single network for users to easily access must be a commercial priority.

What will the growth of intelligent mobility and the sharing economy mean for users and for the transport sector? For users there are a number of significant benefits – a wider range of mobility opportunities, better value for money, greater flexibility to use on-demand services that can offer personalisation based on every individual’s preference. Imagine paying for your mobility on a pay monthly or pay as you go contract. Even better, paying for your travel at the end of the month based on what you actually used – in an instant removing the hassle of planning your journey to ensure you get the right tickets, pay the right fares and so on. Incentives to pay in advance could instead focus on paying for live demand – offering flexibility on either time or mode accordingly. For the transport sector, surely the time is coming to adapt. As mentioned above, the car manufacturers have quite clearly seen what the future holds and are adapting their businesses now. I predicted in our recent white paper Journeys of the Future that the sector would split into two: one group of companies managing the transport networks, infrastructure and service provision, the other group acting as mobility service providers acting as the broker of capacity for customers and ensuring that the user experience is the priority.

Our debate on Tuesday should be fascinating and I will follow up on this piece with a report of the event.

The follow up article on this topic is now available here.

UK & Europe,

Automated Vehicles (AV), or self-driving cars, have been all over the news recently. Venturer, for example, looks to examine people’s behaviours and technology implications for autonomous vehicles through the creation of a test site in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire region. Connected Vehicles (CV) are also being deployed and tested across the world. It’s important to understand what they both mean, and why we want/need them.

Imagine a car, not unlike your own, that can talk to other cars around it and hear about the road and conditions for the journey you are intending to go on and suggest options to you. You are driving all the time, but the CV car is now talking to you and to other cars, but not offering to do the driving for you, not yet. Now an automated vehicle is the other type of car, like an older brother of CV where it will do all of the talking but can also do the driving for you. Imagine a car that can drive itself, allow you to read your paper, work on your email, and alerts you when it needs your attention – that is AV.

If you think about it, our vehicles are already more connected than you might realise. Sat navs already include connected vehicle functionality, such as dynamic route guidance; your sat nav receives information of congestion ahead via mobile phone signal, and suggests an alternative route. TomTom, Garmin and other companies currently subscribe to data feeds provided by Highways England which give details of incidents, including the cause and likely clear-up time, which they pass onto you.

‘eCall’ (emergency call) is a CV capability that is currently being provided by several vehicle manufacturers, and which the EU plans to make a legal requirement in all new vehicles. When a car is involved in an accident, it will detect what has happened (the airbags have deployed, say) and set up an automatic voice call to a control centre. At the same time it will use GPS to send precise location details, so the emergency responders can set off faster and have more details of the situation.

Even AV is already with us to some extent; adaptive cruise control can maintain a set speed and slow down / speed up in response to the vehicle in front, meaning you might not need to touch your accelerator pedal at all on the motorway. And lane keeping systems mean you don’t need to steer. The difference is that at the moment, you are officially in control of the vehicle (Level 2 automation on the SAE scale – PDF) whereas with true AV in future, the car will be fully in control (Level 5).

So what next for CV in the shorter term? Vehicles nowadays have a huge amount of information which could be really useful for highway operators. e.g. vehicles switch on wipers when it’s raining, switch on fog lights when foggy, sense reduced skid resistance in icy conditions and has external temperature detectors. Even floods, potholes, road debris can be identified by analysing the data trails from the vehicles. All this information could help with gritting, setting variable message signs, sending out patrols, etc. if taken from the vehicle’s CAN bus and communicated to control centres.

Another opportunity for CV is the sharing of traffic signal information with CV/AV. Green Light Optimisation, as demonstrated recently in Newcastle, where emergency vehicles and priority buses can request a green signal, or the creation of virtual green waves as and when appropriate, are becoming increasingly possible.

However, for the uptake and management of CV and AV capability, it will be necessary to make sure that the communications network is capable enough to ensure its success. This means ensuring that the infrastructure backbone can ensure safe, reliable, robust ways of sharing information between all parts of the network. This will require strategic investment and understanding of both the technical and behavioural issues around AV and CV, as well as the long term maturity of the different technology mixes currently available. Venturer’s test environment will ensure that these and other questions associated with AV deployment are addressed in a safe and thorough way.

Finally, it is worth stating the potentially huge benefits that can be provided by CV / AV:

Safety – Most accidents involve driver error and we know that machines could drive more reliably than humans. By greatly reducing the opportunity for human error, AV technologies have the potential to significantly reduce the number of crashes.

Reduced congestion – Through connected and automated services vehicles could drive closer together, which would increase roadway capacity without impeding safety since machines can keep minimum distances and still drive safely when compared with a human driver. We cannot keep building roads and adding lanes to meet demand, so CV/AV will be the vital next big step for increasing capacity.

Improved emissions – Vehicle platooning reduces air resistance for following vehicles, and traffic signal information could lead to more optimised speeds, two examples of ways in which emissions can be reduced.

Time – If drivers aren’t driving they can be working or reading or watching television!

Equity – Anyone can use a self-driving car! Disabled, younger or older people would all have increased mobility, surely one of the greatest potential benefits of CV/AV. Of course this could greatly increase demand, and completely change the way we use cars (renting road space instead of owning a car).

Improved road design – The improved safety could remove the need for crash barriers, which when combined with the replacement of signs with in-vehicle information could lead to our roads becoming less cluttered and more attractive!

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Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, North America, Rest of World, UK & Europe,

In the 1960’s, the concept of buying a car was simple. People grew up dreaming about the car they wanted. They saved for it and they bought it with cash. In the 1980’s, there was a shift in thinking. Consumers began to question the need to spend large amounts of cash for an asset they were going to use infrequently and keep for less than ten years. And so the concept of leasing was developed. Leasing meant not having to buy a vehicle outright, but still having the perks of ownership and access to a vehicle, which was a great solution for many drivers.

Leasing also worked out well for manufacturers, who in the early 2000’s began creating highly accurate models for evaluating residual value in used vehicles. The same companies that were once only focused on the efficient manufacturing of vehicles now began developing substantial financial and leasing branches. By the end of the 2000’s—with persuasive leasing agreements, certified used cars, and economic constraints—drivers no longer wanted to spend their money to own a new car.

In Cambridge, MA—just outside of Boston—Antje Danielson and Robin Chase launched Zipcar, the first car-sharing service. By 2005, the company had secured $10M in funding and had started a new industry. In urban areas, many people were now choosing not to participate in vehicle ownership or paying for parking, tolling, insurance, or gas and instead chose a car sharing option.

Today, owning a vehicle is not as important as it was in the 60’s. Applications for drivers’ licenses have declined, especially in urban areas. As demand for personal ownership has declined, demand for transportation and mobility services are increasing.

There are now many competitors to Zipcar, like City CarShare in the San Francisco Bay Area and I-GO in Chicago. Traditional rental car companies are also joining the market. Zipcar was acquired by AVIS, and Enterprise and Hertz have also initiated car-sharing services. But those joining the car-sharing market have faced an uphill climb in managing demand and the logistics involved in forecasting one-way trips. These obstacles have not been simple to overcome.

Even traditional vehicle manufacturing companies—Audi/VW, BMW, and Daimler—are joining the mix. While other manufacturers may also be pursing car-sharing services as a line of business, they have been less vocal about the pursuit.

Uber and Lyft have also made the news, developing a new model for mobility services and capitalizing on the high demand. Uber was most recently valued at $41B.

Atkins expects to see several new brands enter the mobility space over the next ten years and this includes companies offering mobility as a service. Most recently, there have been rumors about Apple and Virgin in the electric car space, and we’ve already witnessed Google’s autonomous vehicles.

All of these examples point to a dissipation of the importance of brand in traditional automotive manufacturing. This trend also opens an opportunity for untraditional partnering for services. With the growth of the Uber and Lyft comes the distinct possibility of smaller international automobile manufacturers successfully selling to the US market. Previously Chinese, Indian, or other non-traditional manufacturers would have an uphill battle selling directly to US consumers. But new approaches, such as selling their vehicles through services similar to Uber or Lyft, may be feasible—offering lower prices for mobility services instead of ownership.

While enthusiasts will likely continue to supply a steady demand for high-end vehicles, Atkins forecasts a shift away from the importance of branding at the middle to lower-levels. We believe the consistent, decreasing demand for ownership and the many new brands entering the market will create a new focus on those that offer mobility as a service.

For more information on MaaS, you can download a new white paper, Journeys of the Future, written by the UK Transportation’s intelligent mobility team at Atkins here.

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North America,

The Middle East has seen a quantum leap in transportation in the last decade and, inevitably, technology is really pushing this advance.

The region is still in a development phase, which puts us in the fantastic position of not being encumbered with legacy infrastructure and systems. There’s also much less bureaucracy around project definition and development – so new projects and programmes can go straight from Royal Decree to delivery.

Of course, that’s not always a positive thing and there’s a lot to be said for the careful planning and legal processes of advanced economies. However, technology moves at a startling pace and the Middle East is better placed than most parts of the world to be an early adopter of new systems.

Transport authorities in the UAE and Qatar, in particular, are making technology and smart systems a key component of their investment plans. They have the funding and platforms to be able to buy off the shelf solutions which present limited risk and flexibility for development.

The evidence of behavioural change and adaptation to transport innovations is very positive. Those who doubted the potential of Dubai Metro (the longest automated mass transit system in the world) to attract users will be eating humble pie for a many years. Its success has led to similar technologically advanced networks being proposed and planned across the region, and the impact on cities like Doha and Riyadh will be huge.

The Gulf states have among the highest levels of mobile phone penetration in the world and apps like Uber have enjoyed tremendous success. Transport authorities are also capitalising on this with their smart systems, making it easier to order taxis, catch a bus or work out your best route from A to B.

There’s also a big push in the region to encourage active, healthy lifestyles and technology is making the roads safer for vulnerable users such as cyclists, although there’s a long way to catch up with cities like London or Paris, not to mention Copenhagen. We’re working closely with government clients in the region at the moment to understand the full implications of taking on new systems, such as the physical changes needed for the roads infrastructure.

The creation of cycle friendly environments could typically entail layout changes to traffic light junctions, where sensors will detect cyclists and allow them a head start before cars get the green light. Intelligent sensors can also detect when pedestrians are still crossing a road to ensure traffic lights don’t change too early.

So it’s an exciting time for all modes of transportation in the Middle East. There are challenges – there’s little incentive for private sector investment, while cheap fuel means people will continue to be married to their 4x4s. However, the region is a melting pot, with 200 nationalities and a spirit for getting things done, so I’m expecting to see it keep forging ahead and improving how we get around.

For more information on MaaS, you can download a new white paper, Journeys of the Future, written by the UK Transportation’s intelligent mobility team at Atkins here.

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Middle East & Africa,

The 21st century has seen an astonishing rate of technological development. Looking back around ten years we saw the first smartphones starting to appear, the Oyster card was taking hold in London’s public transport provision and social networks were beginning to emerge. In the last 12 months alone the proportion of the UK population who now own smartphones has risen from 51% to 61%. Correspondingly 90% of the data that exists globally was generated in the last two years alone.

The transport sector is starting to see a number of trends taking hold which are starting to change how people perceive the role of transport and what it should be doing to meet their requirements. The rise of the sharing economy has seen car share and bike hire go from a niche market to an expectation of any self-respecting city. The application of big data analytics is creating space for new market entrants to develop new products and services that are taking on the established order and forcing them to assess their business model and their customers’ experience.

Across all of these emerging opportunities there is a major strategic opportunity for the concept of intelligent mobility to be applied systematically. To achieve this, the two central tenets must be observed:

  • the user and their experience must be placed at the heart of service design and delivery;
  • the transport network must be planned and delivered as a completely integrated system.

If we perceive the term ‘Intelligent Mobility’ (IM) as a method for framing our understanding of the role of transport as actually being a utility that exists solely to meet our mobility demands in order to undertake an activity at the end of every journey, then what is the practical impact for transport as a means to an end?

IM thinking changes the landscape, moving from transport as the provision of fixed services to an integrated system of mobility opportunities focused on delivering the requirements of every user in an individualised and on-demand manner.

One practical implementation of IM is Mobility as a Service (MaaS). The goal of MaaS is to enable users to purchase mobility in an individualised and flexible manner with the user requirements placed at the heart of the service they are purchasing. It enables access to mobility rather than buying a car or season ticket and, crucially, is about helping the user to get around quickly, easily and flexibly.

MaaS inverts the traditional focus on transport as the supply of capacity on a fixed network of routes (railway lines, bus routes and so on) and instead designs and directs a transport system to meet the demand of every single user. The opportunity for MaaS to be applied has been enabled by the penetration of smartphones across the population and by the power of data analytics to be able to consume and make sense of the amount of data required to manage every user’s journey in the most efficient way possible and dynamically against how the network is performing and where the demand actually is in real time.

From the user perspective, MaaS fundamentally shifts the role of the transport system from the blunt instrument of multiple forms of supply to instead meeting the individual’s demand for travel for their whole journey. There is a helpful analogy – your mobile phone contract. Imagine paying a monthly fee to your network provider (it could be your city transport authority, or perhaps EE, or BMW) and you pick the contract that provides the right options for you, for example unlimited train travel, a certain number of bike hires, some use of carsharing and liftsharing services could be included in your monthly tariff, with some bolt-on extras available as and when required.

From the perspective of the transport sector, this could see a shift to businesses focusing on one of two areas – either the provision of supply of infrastructure capacity to enable mobility (e.g. trains, buses, car rental) or the customer-facing retail element as the mobility service provider (who would meet the user demand by purchasing capacity from the supplier in block and then tailoring a package to fit their individual customers’ requirements).

MaaS can fundamentally change the game in a number of positive ways and cities across the world are taking notice of this emerging approach to reimagining how we can improve mobility.

For more on this discussion, have a read of the white paper we have published on MaaS which you can find here.

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Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, North America, Rest of World, UK & Europe,

Imagine a typical city in Asia, with unexceptional transport links, heavy traffic during peak hours and a growing population. For residents, getting from A to B isn’t a question of luxury or convenience: for most, it’s a necessary daily grind.

This situation is particularly true in many emerging Asian Pacific economies, where rising wealth and vehicle ownership has far outstripped infrastructure investment, leading to crippling bottlenecks.

What could be done to change that picture, in a sustainable way, for everyone’s benefit? As technology evolves, the answer may be just around the corner.

Technology is already influencing commuter choices and behaviours in many cities in Asia Pacific from the growth of online taxi booking offered by innovative companies like Uber to the rise in smart journey planners, but these individual activities also reflect a potential new approach to travel planning.

The emergence of “mobility as a service” (MaaS) – the interaction of information and technology, coupled with a rise in sharing-based economies – offers a new and more connected approach to influencing travel behaviour and the players in the industry, policies, and vice versa.

MaaS provides a single platform that combines all transport options in a simple and integrated way. Its aim is to get customers from A to B, rather than focusing on individual transport modes and services.

How will MaaS change the way we view our travel options? We asked three experts in Asia Pacific for their views on this changing transport landscape.

Jonathan Spear, technical director with Atkins in Asia Pacific

Mobility has already undergone several revolutions. During the first industrial revolution in Europe and North America in the 19th century, railways and fixed public transport networks supported the concentration of population and employment within newly emerging cities.

In the 20th century, the emergence of mass produced private motor vehicles underpinned the suburbanisation of these cities and decentralisation of activities into the surrounding countryside, encouraged by growing consumer choice, freedom of movement and desire for an enhanced quality of life.

Yet the growth in travel demand, combined with rapid motorisation, has also led to pressing and universal urban challenges for travellers, communities and public agencies. Traffic congestion has become endemic, imposing costs and inconvenience on private and public transport users alike. Rising car ownership and urban sprawl have eroded the countryside and stretched the physical and financial viability of fixed transit networks. Hundreds of thousands are killed or seriously injured in road traffic accidents each year and those without access to a private car have seen their access to opportunities fall behind. And the reliance of the transport sector on fossil fuels has contributed to deteriorating air quality and growing greenhouse gas emissions, with implications for public health, ecosystems and the global climate.

Intelligent mobility offers a new, exciting and rapidly accelerating paradigm – through increasingly autonomous, connected and clean vehicles, personalised travel information and demand-responsive travel. While the range of new business models and players, blurring of the public and private sectors and the sharing of data will inevitably be disruptive, the ultimate prize is to put customer choice and experience first, deliver sustainable economic growth, and equalise and democratise opportunity for all citizens.

It is clear, however, realising these benefits cannot rely on the old methods; cities will need to scan multiple technologies, anticipate a range of potential future outcomes, continuously innovate and reinvent themselves, and assemble collaborative partnerships across government, academia and industry to drive effective action. As different approaches and business models are tested, a body of best practice, adapted to local circumstances and consumer markets, will eventually start to emerge. In that respect, the next two decades promise to be very exciting indeed.

In Asia Pacific, urbanisation is taking place faster than anything ever seen in Europe or North America, producing massive mobility challenges. In developing solutions, cities are likely to grasp the opportunities of intelligent mobility at different extents and speeds. The region already includes recognised cases such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Seoul, which have achieved world class outcomes in terms of urban mass transit, transport demand management and integration between land use and transport.

Moreover, with high levels of smartphone take-up, Asia is home to many current and yet-to-emerge technology companies and service providers that will power the new mobility revolution, support infrastructure investment and enable journeys which are increasingly informed, personalised and adaptive. To this extent, many Asian cities and their citizens will prosper from the new paradigm.

Other cities, crucially many in China and India, will struggle – especially those most vulnerable to ecological degradation and climate change. This is a result of limited data processing and communication technology as well as inadequate financing and delivery models for multi-modal infrastructure and operations. Moreover, inflexible regulatory frameworks can stifle innovation and weak institutional arrangements do little to promote collaborative behaviours between public agencies or with the private sector.

Latterly, it is these policy, legal and regulatory factors, together with the absence of strong civic vision and leadership and system-level stakeholder collaboration, which will be as decisive in determining successful outcomes in the brave new world of intelligent mobility as the adoption of any given technology, infrastructure or system solution.

Jonathan Spear has more than 20 years’ experience in transport policy, strategy and institutional advice. He has worked for Atkins in London, Dubai and is currently based in Hong Kong. As well as representing the company on the Council of the European Transport Association, he has actively supported the work of two Technical Committees of the World Road Association, focused on institutional integrity and multi-modal governance.

Andrew Hodgson, associate director with Atkins in Asia Pacific

In Asia Pacific, transport choices often relate to far more complex considerations than time, cost and accessibility. Climate also plays a key role, as do cultural considerations, which influence how people view modes of transport, whether it’s the perceived prestige of car ownership in many emerging economies, or religious sensitivities of men and women travelling together on public transport.

MaaS is an interesting response to these issues, and looks to the private sector to spearhead a revolution in transportation.

Data is the key to MaaS, and there are few places in the world where technology and the “internet of things” are more prevalent than Asia. 4G data connections are common in underground metro lines and free wifi is often available in shopping malls and public districts. Across Asia, people are highly connected, whether sitting in restaurants posting images of their meal or watching high definition TV while sitting on a bus.

Live data is everywhere and people already rely on it heavily in their daily lives. Even within economies under state-enforced restrictions or coping with rudimentary infrastructure, innovative ways are often invented to circumvent problems. The question for this region is therefore less about the availability of data, but more about how it will be embraced by society and governments alike.

In Hong Kong, for example, the public transport network is already incredibly advanced and, alongside the high cost of car ownership, this has led to a real estate premium in being close to mass transit. Octopus travel cards allow travel across multiple public transport modes (train, metro, tram, ferry), and can just as easily be used to buy a pint of milk or open the security gate in your office building.

The line between transport and society is blurred, where cheap and accessible public transport is already approaching commoditisation. No better example is the MTR Corporation, which operates the city’s metro infrastructure. The majority of the organisation’s annual profit (a word not normally associated with public transport agencies) comes from property development associated with their stations.

The question is, how will people respond to a new approach to transport? One of the most important considerations would be how MaaS could put in place a service level agreement to a subscriber, without knowing the exact journeys they need to take and when they need them.

This could require extra (and often redundant) capacity in the system, although incentives would go some way in converging demand and supply on a continuous basis. Incentives are already commonplace in advanced transport systems, such as the ERP charging tariffs in Singapore, or the travel card touch-points on key streets in Hong Kong, which incentivise walking to the metro. It is therefore important to research the potential demand response as MaaS becomes more sophisticated, and more importantly to determine how this differs from region to region and country to country.

The other angle is, of course, how governments will respond to a change in the status quo. An often cited early entrant to this market is Uber, which is already operating in Hong Kong. However, as existing taxis are ubiquitous and cheap, and mass transit even more so, early signs are that this is becoming a service restricted to less accessible destinations, or where a more prestigious journey is sought. So far there is little sign of a need, or desire for, a greater step change to develop an integrated public/private transport system.

In other Asian countries, the potential government response is also unclear. Should MaaS be met with restrictions rather than collaboration, it may need to first develop a critical mass. A number of cities, for example, already have a black market of taxi drivers, recognisable solely by the small red lights hung from the interior mirror. While not an image of best practice, like the innovation shown by users wishing better communications access, alternatives will clearly be sought.

But more importantly, should MaaS be able to demonstrate a social, financial and environmental benefit, this may be the missing piece in the jigsaw that is needed to cut the regions crippling congestion, tackle the dangerous levels of smog experienced in Asian cities on a daily basis, as well as becoming an exciting prospect for emerging economies that rely heavily on foreign investment to pay for much needed infrastructure.

Andrew Hodgson has over 14 years’ experience in network planning and demand forecasting. Previously managing Atkins’ specialist Pedestrian Planning business in London and Transport Planning team in India, now from a Hong Kong base he is leading transport planning advisory projects, predominately for mass transit feasibility studies and private developer investments in Asia Pacific.

Cameron MacDonald, associate director with Atkins in Asia Pacific

Cities in Asia Pacific vary considerably in their transport offerings and, therefore, in their likely responses to the provision of MaaS.

On the one hand, cities like Hong Kong and Singapore provide affordable, connected and integrated multi-modal public transport networks supported by policy frameworks that complement low levels of car reliance and ownership. The case for MaaS is perhaps weakened in societies that are already highly mobile, although citizens of these cities are certainly wedded to their smart phones, and bespoke services such as Uber have managed to make an impact and find a particular niche in Hong Kong. The challenge for highly regulated Singapore will be to what extent such systems will be permitted to operate autonomously.

On the other hand, developing mega-cities such as Ho Chi Min City, Bangkok, Jakarta and numerous others in China, which are groaning under the weight of private motorised transport usage, have already become victims of “unintelligent mobility”. While these cities seek smarter means of mobility, they have to cope with weak institutional arrangements and inflexible regulatory frameworks, along with a relative lack of data and processing. These will challenge the introduction of MaaS concepts. That said, one of MaaS’ apparent strengths is its use of private sector resources to address these challenges.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in implementing MaaS in Asia Pacific is in effecting the transport network capacity enhancements implicit in the literature. Incentivising peak spreading as a way of making better use of existing transport infrastructure is laudable, but cultural sensitivities around working hours may hamper the best intentions of service providers. Also, while increased sharing of vehicles may well result in more efficient means of matching transport supply and demand, it will not necessarily limit traffic congestion in cities where the morning commuter peak in particular is rigid and pronounced.

Asia Pacific is tech-savvy and progressive, providing an ideal platform for MaaS. With the right mix of private sector ingenuity, bespoke regulatory reform as well as consideration of cultural sensitivities peculiar to the Region, MaaS presents as an interesting approach to addressing the mobility issues of Asia Pacific’s cities.

Cameron MacDonald has worked in the region for over 20 years and witnessed first-hand in that time the deterioration in life quality in many of its cities in terms of increasing traffic congestion, community severance and environmental degradation.

For more information on MaaS, you can download a new white paper, Journeys of the Future, written by the UK Transportation’s intelligent mobility team at Atkins here.

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Connected and autonomous vehicle technologies are set to fundamentally transform our relationship with vehicles over the coming years. The potential benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles are so great that according to a recent KPMG study they could deliver £51bn in economic benefit per annum to the UK by 2030.

In their forecast KPMG have valued the improved user experience at £40bn (by far the greatest contributor to the overall £51bn benefit) being driven largely by increased productivity as users can work while they travel. The potential wider economic impacts of such vehicles are also substantial including reduced travel and freight costs, the better use of urban space and industry gains from developing and selling the technologies behind connected and autonomous vehicles.

These benefits tie in with the wider move towards Intelligent Mobility – a new way of thinking about how to better connect people, goods and services across all transport modes, improving the overall customer experience and supporting behavioural change. Central to this is the development and harnessing of new technologies and data sources, as well as an understanding of user behaviour, acceptability and adoption.

The move towards connected and autonomous vehicles comes at a time when the way in which we use transport is evolving. We see a greater desire amongst car drivers for access to mobility rather than ownership – with the uptake of car clubs and services such as Uber. This is reflected in the concept of Mobility as a Service which is focused on providing a single platform for presenting mobility options to the customer in a simple integrated manner. This will see connected and autonomous vehicles being one of several options available for users as part of an overall mobility package with the vehicles themselves potentially not being owned by the user but the manufacturer, mobility provider or local government.

At this early stage of the roadmap towards the adoption of fully autonomous vehicles, the development of innovative technology is key. In particular, the development of sensors and their integration within vehicles and road infrastructure pushes forward the ability for vehicles to connect with each other and the transport infrastructure. Further to this, the simulation of autonomous vehicles is crucial for fully understanding their impact.

Understanding the huge amount of data available and using more effective analytical techniques in order to develop improved products and services for users is great. But at the same time there is a huge need to understand what this will really mean for users once we can roll out new technologies, especially how we will interact with connected and autonomous vehicles, which is why Atkins is working as part of the Venturer consortium to better understand how such vehicles will interact with the urban environment and user acceptability towards them.

We must also ensure that the right environment is in place for the testing and subsequent adoption of these vehicles. The UK is already well placed with Government encouraging innovation and testing through the establishment of autonomous vehicle trials – as seen in Milton Keynes, Bristol, Coventry and Greenwich. However it is too easy to become complacent, there is a need to better develop and establish the right independent urban testing facilities for autonomous vehicles.

Government and industry must also ensure that the policy and regulatory environment keeps up with technological developments. Whilst the UK’s regulatory framework is currently favourable for the development of autonomous vehicles (noted by KPMG) as technology develops so must the relevant legislation. This is a central topic for the Venturer consortium which is working to understand the legal and insurance implications of autonomous vehicles.

The potential benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles are clear and the UK is well placed to achieve them both in terms of benefits to the user and the wider economic gains from being a leader in developing the technologies behind them. But we must not rest on our laurels; we must continue to innovate, ask questions and challenge ourselves.

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UK & Europe,

Technology changes, but one thing that doesn’t is its ability to grab attention and inspire people to think differently. Whether it’s light bulbs, steam engines or planes, the possibility of something new is perhaps more exciting than the reality.

In this respect, driverless cars have made headlines over the last few months, with Google conducting trials in California, to more recently road based trials being conducted in the UK. Atkins is proud to be part of the early stages of development, playing a key role as part of the Venturer consortium conducting trials in the engineering and tech cluster of Bristol.

It is difficult to comprehend how such a simple innovation as the removal of a driver could have such profound consequences for our travel system. While several companies predict driverless technologies to be available around 2020 (Tesla, Google and Mercedes, for example) it is not a question of if, but when mass uptake will happen. A safe bet would be within a decade of introduction, say 2030, as is the case with most major technological developments. My hunch is that it will happen sooner than this, perhaps in half the time.

With disruptive technologies, it is very difficult to forecast where they’ll go by extrapolating current market trends. However, what is important to understand is how ideas and innovations grow and evolve into bigger ideas.

If we look back on historic technological developments, it is rare that one idea changes the world. Instead, revolutions arise from the combination of technologies. A good recent example is the smartphone: a decade ago they barely existed; I can still remember the first time I saw an iPhone early in 2008. If we look more closely, it is clear that the smartphone is not solely a mobile telephone. Developments in capacitive touchscreen displays, GPS, Bluetooth, digital cameras, MP3 players, lithium ion battery technology, mobile (3G) internet and the app-orientated operating system have fused together to create an incredibly powerful piece of technology in everyone’s pockets.

With this in mind, a similar story can be predicted in the personal transport sector: driverless cars are not the only technology that has the potential to disrupt. Smartphone based taxi hailing systems such as Uber, recent advances in battery technology, aluminium manufacturing techniques, electric vehicles, 4G mobile phone networks, semi-autonomous technologies already in cars, organic PV cells, renewable sources of electricity, mesh networks are a range of recent developments where we will see synergies between each and every technology; each aspect will support and reinforce its counterparts.

Similarly, if we add in commercial drivers such as the need to free up valuable real estate in our cities, reduce congestion in the face of rising demand, increase capacity without incurring high capital costs, reduce insurance costs, avoid Single Occupancy Vehicles, increase the utilisation of vehicles, reduce susceptibility to volatile oil prices and increase productivity while travelling, there will be a significant impetus behind a paradigm shift in transportation.

There will be arguments against this view, but typically they will be based on 20th Century values and opinions. How many people actually own a vehicle they would enjoy driving more than be driven in? Do you need to own a car when it is cheaper and just as convenient to Uber one? When the first person is killed in or by a driverless car, will people forget that thousands of people currently die on our roads each year? Will cars be any more susceptible to being hacked than our internet bank accounts?

When thinking about timescales for adoption, it is also important to change our frame of reference. Rather than viewing the car as a transportation device, we should view it as a communication and energy storage device, or perhaps a big mobile phone on wheels. With this also in mind, we should also consider the ‘time constant’ that dictates the rate of change in an industry. For example, with three generations of technology developed in 75 years, perhaps the time constant for the nuclear industry is a long 25 years. The automotive sector is quicker and more fluid, perhaps just under a decade is reasonable.

However, when dealing with computer based system, Moore’s law governs – a doubling in transistors per square inch every couple of years. Perhaps this natural pace of innovation and change has facilitated such rapid developments in the internet, computing, mobile phone and related technology sectors, which is now over spilling into transportation. We are witnessing the early stages of a collision of two worlds – digital and physical. The battle has commenced.

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Concept to reality

Urbanisation is increasingly highlighting how a city’s citizens and their environment are connected. There is also no doubt that a wide variety of technologies are converging to provide intelligent mobility tools and smart city services that enable citizens to optimise their time and resources. (A good example is the advanced personal journey planner, or ‘journey angel’, that connects an individual’s calendar held on a mobile device with smart ticketing, reserving a parking space, booking a vehicle in a car share scheme, controlling home heating, etc.)

But how do we go from such conceptual personal tools to real connected city services? How do we provide city governors the confidence to invest in innovative solutions, with their inherent risk, which might have only been piloted in a few cities around the world? Providing evidence for future city systems might be easy in computer games such as SimCity but building robust business cases for what will be major investments needs greater rigour.

Current techniques

So, are current modelling and appraisal techniques up to the task? With a less connected society probably yes and current guidance-led business cases provide compelling evidence for treasurers and commercial investors. But current approaches have struggled to deal with interactions between just two domains, a good example being the time and resource required to model the interaction between transport and the environment. If we add in other domains such as energy and utilities, and even health and crime, plus start to think about the complex interactions with personal activity, and the many choices and unexplored benefits likely to be available, there can be little doubt that a major re-think is required.

Furthermore, existing techniques focus on aggregations of people and their activities, or small scale micro-simulations. They certainly don’t consider how the many choices available to a citizen might be influencing their behaviour, and the opportunities that this presents to service and utility providers to optimise and ‘load-balance’ demand with capacity, and for the best overall benefit to society, the economy and the environment.

Models and data

At this point it would be very interesting, at least for me, to dive deeply into detail as to how we might address this issue. However, when I resurface my message would always be the same and that is we need greater data and model interoperability if we are to be more agile and achieve full city simulations. This will not be easy but we can start thinking about manageable building blocks and the ‘glue’ provided by an open digital object model, which provides a standard interface to the many different objects featured in the city environment. Certain technologies have successfully implemented strong object models, for example the UK Department for Transport Urban Traffic Management Control programme for the development of a more open approach to Intelligent Transport Systems, and participants in the Internet of Things who are working hard to improve interoperability with initiatives such as HyperCat catalogues. But this does not go far enough to simulate an entire city with enough rigour for major business case analysis, and we need to look for an entire architecture solution.

Learning from others

Can we learn from other industries? The global defence industry had a similar problem with interoperability in the 90’s. The US defence industry therefore developed High Level Architecture (HLA) to improve system simulations, including for example war game simulators. Over twenty years the HLA has evolved and has been adopted around the world, and within other industries like gaming and space. The UK defence industry developed a number of separate HLA based object models that eventually converged to the Defence Object Model (DOM), a standard now enforced by the Department for Defence and managed by the industry led DOM Management Group.

What this means for simulating city systems

And HLA might be the saviour for simulating city systems. The prerequisite will be the open HLA object model, and this needs to be a key industry led initiative as we move forwards. With objects described in a consistent manner, the HLA computer city simulations can interact (that is to communicate data and synchronize actions) with each other, regardless of platform. Domain modelling experts can then ‘plug & play’ their HLA compatible systems, and ‘publish’ objects to, and ‘subscribe’ to objects on, the HLA simulations.

This will take time but, through a clear strategy, and with more and more simulators added to the HLA, the city systems can interact on an open and accessible platform that is truly a ‘system of systems’. Initial applications will explore contemporary and innovative modelling techniques across multiple domains, and for the first time allow holistic city scale business cases to be prepared. Enhancements will include reductions in simulation run times for use in real-time applications, and simulated data feeds will be replaced by real data feeds, thus creating a simulator for control rooms. With further speed enhancements, through techniques like ‘statistical emulators’, the HLA system will then be used for ‘near future’ forecasts to show operators the benefits of different ‘city settings’ for the next hour, guiding the operator’s choice with locally calibrated citizen orientated performance indicators estimated by the system.

So, watch this space as the modelling and appraisal communities collaboratively explore the exciting possibilities for simulating city systems. Success will be measured by the ability of analysts to present persuasive business cases for intelligent mobility and smart city services to hard pushed investors, city planners and public representatives.

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Can we understand the true benefit of such new applications over more traditional forms of sustainable travel delivery? Is there still room for both? Probably. But how can the technology industry play a role in facilitating wider and more effective public engagement and improving the monitoring performance of smarter travel projects? Furthermore, what does the travel plan of the future look like in terms of the provision for technology-based measures? We look forward to seeing these issues discussed at Smarter Travel 2015.

Increasingly, the talk of any sustainable travel project is around Intelligent Mobility. This seamlessly connects people, places and goods across all transport modes. It is all about behavioural change in the door-to-door journey – how we use technology and data on the road, cycling and walking network, rail and public transport networks to inform decision making and enable behavioural change.

The withdrawal of Transport Direct as a Government maintained service opens up the market to a number of new private sector led and publicly funded journey planners using Open Data. User feedback is being incorporated into how journey options are presented (for example, how the Waze application automatically re-routes drivers to an alternative route if there is congestion ahead recorded by other drivers using the application).

Providing user feedback in a smart way is increasingly what consumers want and are familiar with, but there can be unintended consequences. Real-time journey re-routing may cut journey times for customers but could lead to increased traffic volumes on minor roads (with associated environmental impacts on local communities).

Customers are increasingly using rewards-based journey planners that offer personal added value. For example, the user receives an alert to a number of coffee shops on route and is offered a discount to stop along their way. This concept, referred to as ‘gamification’ by some, can help to engage a wider audience, but we need to hear more from the technology industry about the longer-term mode shift potential and whether we will witness ‘gamification’ fatigue!

As sustainable travel professionals we are, and should continue to, embrace Intelligent Mobility but should remain open-minded about specific technology solutions and their intended benefits for LSTF revenue schemes in the coming year. Technology gives us the opportunity to influence a wider audience but the role of knowledgeable, local transport planners will always be key especially when engaging with sections of the population who are most impacted by social exclusion issues.

For further information please contact or

Atkins is a lead sponsor for Smarter Travel 2015 in Birmingham in February. The conference will provide a platform to showcase successes achieved by the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) projects over the last three years, along with a chance for technology providers to demonstrate their latest smarter travel products and journey planning applications.

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UK & Europe,

Traffic Management, Network Management, Network outcomes, Transport Operations, Smart Travel – our world is flooded with terms, often conflicting and often confusing. That said, I believe it is important to introduce another unifying term to the conversation, Journey Management.

Journey Management must be the umbrella term that covers all of the above, linking the person, the mode of transport, their ticketing needs and the traffic authority together. But what does this really mean and how is it different?

Journey Management is a “system of systems” approach to creating an ambient and responsive capability across all of the different journey types and users. Technology provides the capability, but people and their tailored needs and requirements must be placed at the heart of everything we do. Scenarios where freight management schedules are linked to traffic light adaptions, dynamic priority combined with electric vehicles, automatically responsive junctions to dynamic loading, including cycle and pedestrian priority, are all either possible or in the early stages of implementation. Journey Management will help to achieve this.

Interoperability, long used as a term for technical discussion is just as important now but from a different perspective. Services delivered for people, places and goods will need to be truly interoperable.

Journey Management is made up of three key linked area, namely the traffic authority and its network control, a collaboration hub between public and private bodies and thirdly, and often forgotten is customer experience, i.e. the ability to use mobile ticketing, link to their social or personal needs etc. Far too often companies and authorities focus on just one area but it is clear, for a sustainable and scalable service to be provided, a solution for one of these areas cannot be delivered without consideration of the other two. It should not matter whether you are walking, cycling, driving, managing the network, delivering goods etc., the journey and all of its parts must operate together. Obviously this is no easy task and in turn it creates new business models and opportunities around the provision of ‘services’.

For example, automobile companies such as BMW have stated that their business model is changing and they look to be considered in the future as a Mobility Provider, not just a maker of automobiles, and are actively looking at ways to offer complete intermodal journey management as a service.

Ticketing, and the capability offered through services such as ApplePay, is on the cusp of changing to a mobile centric environment, which brings with it the ability to combine various data sets and applications together under a single umbrella of journey management.

However, it is clear that no one technology or sensor will be capable of delivering a multimodal and comprehensive end to end solution. Instead, a suite of technologies and sensors, both fixed and virtual will be at the heart of its operation. Traditional silos of data can now be broken down allowing information to flow more freely. Advances in systems architecture and back end integration allow for analysis and crunching vast amounts of data in real time.

People, whatever their mode and whatever the reason behind their journey, will benefit by having personalised and intelligent information (current and predictive) available at the touch of the button. Welcome to the world of Journey Management!

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Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, North America, Rest of World, UK & Europe,

Rail stations are very often the hubs of the neighbourhoods in which they are situated, as a recent article points out. They are a gathering point, a nexus, a means of modal interchange and, nowadays, as in the case of Kings Cross Station in London, increasingly a “destination station”, a place to go in its own right, whether for entertainment, dining or even as a tourist attraction, as the lines for the “Platform 9¾” attraction demonstrate.

But the station as an attractor in its own right will be taking second place to its incidental function as an enabler of what people really want for some time yet. Increasingly, we hear of ideas of the “third place”; home, work and “somewhere else”. The rise of ubiquitous mobile connectivity gives knowledge workers the ability to work wherever it suits them to work. The idea of “presenteeism”, where people are to be seen physically working in the office, can now be substituted with a digital version, via a little green status light saying “available” or “online” that appears on people’s social media rosters, whether via Facebook or the corporate Microsoft Lync application.

What makes this work is the agglomeration of “digital presence” in one place. But for interactions that will remain face-to-face – and there will always be many, these will increasingly be concentrated around hubs, with rail stations’ interchange driving traffic. But the total experience of the station as an enabler is being transformed by this. The stand-out example here is connectivity – as expected, “free wifi here” is fast becoming an expectation in places where it was previously a differentiator. People expect to be connected and will, increasingly, avoid places where they can’t get a phone signal or internet connection.

The idea of a station as the hub has been given new life by this expectation of universal connectivity. The “third place” may now be a reality, but the “fourth place” is something that will reveal itself in the age of intelligent mobility. With the advent of autonomous vehicles, rather than smartphones and tablets being seen as a dangerous distraction from the business of driving, driving will increasingly become something that will get in the way of work, and entertainment and relaxation. And while much is made of the potential of a train or indeed a station to be a place for these as well, the “digital railway” cannot function as such unless it can also act as a similar “fourth space” – which will require a seamless digital experience on board. Potential customers will vote not with their feet, but with their seats.

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UK & Europe,

Until recently, a world where vehicles help drivers make informed decisions, and even drive themselves, existed in the distant future. However, advanced transportation technologies and policies are being implemented today that will take effect within the next few years. To realize the opportunities offered by the deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles, agencies must prepare for their arrival right now.

Connected vehicles

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is currently pursuing a mandate to require installation of 5.9 GHz devices in new vehicles to establish standard communications capability and enable data sharing with other vehicles and roadway devices. The federal government is expected to implement this mandate by January 2017, and General Motors has already announced that its 2017 Cadillac CTS sedan (on sale in Fall 2016) will be equipped with compatible vehicle-to-vehicle technology.

As vehicles begin communicating or “connecting” directly with other vehicles and roadways, an enormous amount of real-time, dynamic data will be produced and available to agencies. Moreover, it’s expected to be the largest amount of data ever produced from a single source throughout human history. This will pose a significant data management challenge requiring considerable planning. This will also offer an exciting opportunity for better roadway management, increased throughput, and decreased costs to agencies for incident response.

Once implemented, these initiatives are expected to have a significant impact on crash-based fatalities through collision avoidance at intersections and accidental lane departures. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 80 percent of unimpaired crash scenarios could be eliminated, saving thousands of lives each year.

In addition, traffic reduction measures, such as improved signal coordination, could help address environmental and mobility concerns.

Autonomous vehicles

Simultaneous to the development of connected vehicles, autonomous vehicles are taking shape and following two development paths—autonomous vehicles connected to roadway infrastructure, and non-connected autonomous vehicles that are independent of infrastructure. Connected autonomous vehicles will take messages from roadside units and from other vehicles to help make decisions for the vehicle. Non-connected autonomous vehicles will make those decisions based on information from maps, on-board equipment, and connectivity through 4G or LTE (cellular-based connections).

Early studies show that autonomous vehicles will significantly decrease following distance through platooning (i.e., vehicle groups traveling close together), reducing safe following distance to inches rather than feet and making safer driving decisions than human drivers. Self-parking vehicles will also require less space to maneuver, reducing parking space needs.

Realizing the opportunities

To support deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles, agencies need to plan for the associated infrastructure required (fiber-optic and supporting networks, traffic management center equipment, and roadside equipment), address staffing needs, and consider data management and privacy concerns. Connected vehicle systems using Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) are specifically designed to protect privacy by not associating data with any particular vehicle or driver; however, privacy advocates are already raising objections. Agencies need to be ready to effectively communicate privacy details and policies.

Atkins has been working with the federal government for more than a decade on the development of connected and autonomous vehicles and is excited to lend our expertise to deploying the technology. We’ve been involved in designing and troubleshooting equipment and networks for local deployments of DSRC at facilities such as the San Francisco Airport and the original test bed in Novi, MI, and we’re planning several connected vehicle deployments for various agencies throughout the country.

Atkins has also contributed to the development standards for DSRC roadside equipment and system performance, and we’re working with U.S. Department of Transportation to develop standard approaches for deployment of local connected vehicle systems.

As we prepare for deployment of this technology — moving us light-years ahead in terms of safety, ease, and reduction of carbon-producing traffic — careful planning and collaboration with experienced teams, as well as effective communications with stakeholders are key to realizing its full potential.

And as my colleague Lee Woodcock has already written, this will involve working collaboratively between the public sector, private sector and academia.

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An article in the Times today says driverless cars will appear on Britain’s roads by 2019, and will barely be distinguishable from those by driven by humans. This exciting prospect is being driven by rapidly advancing vehicle technology. I agree with the article when it says that technology will not be the issue to hold back development.

What we do need to develop is proof of concepts on the integration with driverless cars and existing infrastructure. This is where the UK Government’s £10 million investment will help.

The main issue for me is around people and trust, how will pedestrians and cyclists, for instance, react and interact with driverless cars? There is a huge opportunity to think about this and how society can enhance the public realm as a result of technology enabling a move towards intelligent mobility.

We also need to take other sectors along with us to develop new services and business models. These will need to be innovative and address a range of complex challenges – working collaboratively between the public sector, private sector and academia will unlock these but it will take time.

It is an exciting future: generation Y will be demanding new forms of mobility alongside personalised real time information where transport is a mere utility. We have the capability in the UK to meet this need and driverless cars will have an important role to play.

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This could be considered by some as quite a radical question, particularly, for those that are like me that have been involved in the sector for many years! So, is asking this question a bit like career suicide?

It is quite clear that ITS as a sector has had a challenging few years, and I would argue this was in part was of its own making, we have struggled for too long to explain the benefits and outcomes that ITS can deliver.

That said we are now seeing some growth return and technology is key to some solutions e.g. Smart Motorways, but is this recognised across the board? It still feels that we haven’t learnt the lessons from the past and we run the risk as a sector of not fully realising our potential

I am still passionate about ITS, it needs to punch its weight, be recognised for the value it can add but it needs to change. There needs to be a stronger connection between the role of technology as an enabler across the modes of transport and a focus on the customer experience underpinned by a discipline of formal behavioural change techniques.

There is an opportunity ahead of the ITS sector in the context of Intelligent Mobility, and whilst Intelligent Mobility is not ITS, ITS does have a key role to play.

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UK & Europe,

The car may always rank below riding a bicycle or walking as an environmentally friendly transport choice but this gap is closing. It’s a forced evolution as regional bodies everywhere legislate to bring vehicle emissions down in line with their climate change ambitions. Still, there are barriers to ultimate success as the cleanest vehicles can work only if there is the infrastructure to support them.

Considering that road vehicles account for about one-fifth of CO2 emissions globally, this issue is pressing. The big challenge for transport planners, especially those working in cities, is how to embed an electric power network into the existing transport system and make the solution economical and sustainable. It will require a major engineering effort, with transport planning experts working alongside vehicle manufacturers, urban realm designers and utility companies to plan the changes in a seamless way.

Keith McCabe, chair of the carbon working group at Intelligence Transport Systems (ITS) UK and principal consultant on electric vehicles at Atkins, says that in seeking solutions, planners are discovering new efficiencies by integrating vehicles, distribution and energy supply. There is no “one size fits all” approach, however.

“Take Denmark, where they have an excess of wind energy. They’ve chosen to prioritise ‘battery swap’ technology. Rather than having the bulk of vehicles charging over night, ‘swap-out batteries’ are charged by utilities over night in large numbers using wind power and then swapped over during the day,” McCabe says.

In Japan, meanwhile, renewable energy company Better Place has been testing a refuelling system that allows a robotic mechanism to swap the empty battery in an electric car for a fully charged one. This means electric cars can be “refilled” in minutes, rather than several hours.

In Europe, Project Merge has drawn together leading thinkers and engineers to begin building a power network for electric vehicles. The focus there is on analysing the impact of introducing electric cars on current and future electricity distribution networks.

“There are pilot programmes around the world looking at the practicalities. In the UK, the CABLED project’s interim results, for example, found that a large percentage of electric car drivers are using them as they would use a normal car, which is encouraging,” says Paul J Taylor, head of technology for air quality and greenhouse gas management at Atkins. “The statistics show that most of the journeys were below five miles, while the average daily mileage is about 20 to 25 miles, which is well within the operating range of the electric vehicles used in the pilots. They have a range of about 80 miles a day.”

The new breed

These findings strengthen the argument that electric vehicles can become commonplace. It is expected that all of the big vehicle companies will have some mainstream production models of electric vehicles in circulation in the next two years.

While the cars themselves are improving, the real challenge is to equip urban and suburban areas with a fully functional electric transport network. The UK is taking a firm grasp of this. In London, for example, plans to realise the mayor’s ambition to make the city the electric vehicle capital of Europe are well under way. At least 1,300 charging points will be installed in public locations by the end of 2013 and local government body Transport for London (TfL) has finalised a contract that will see Siemens manage the operation of the network and registration of drivers.

The UK is also supporting the Plugged in Places programme, with Manchester becoming one of the successful bidding cities. The programme provides a glimpse of how cities will need to adopt an integrated approach in order to construct a viable electric transport network.

The principal benefit that greater electric car use will bring to communities is clearly a significant reduction in carbon emissions. David Hytch of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive believes the second big benefit is the ability to at last “develop a really comprehensive smarter transport offering that is going to appeal to a much wider range of people and start to get into the bulk of people who’ve either been very resistant or haven’t really bothered to think about it too much”.

Hytch believes “park and ride” will become the more attractive option as electric cars begin to appear. Instead of driving all the way into the centre of Manchester, people will be more inclined to use the mixed network provided, including the city’s extended Metrolink tram system and an improved bus service.

Planners following Manchester’s lead will need to address a number of issues the pilot has identified. Top of the list is “range anxiety”: the fear among drivers that electric car batteries will unexpectedly run out of charge, leaving them stranded. It’s something that Hytch’s team has factored into its plans: “We’re learning that range anxiety can go away as people begin to trust that there is a network they can rely on. On the issue of charge time, people don’t like to go much below half of full charge before they plug in and get going again. It’s those sorts of things that matter, as well as quite a few lessons about the back office and how people like to pay.”

Julian Weber, head of innovation projects for e-mobility at BMW Project i, says that quick-charging stations, such as those already established in Japan, are not necessarily needed for routine daily use, but still provide an important function.

“The Tokyo Electric Power Company introduced quick charging stations during fleet tests. After installation, the average trip length until recharge almost doubled, but people still didn’t use the stations. So they only had these things for their peace of mind,” he explains.

Atkins’ McCabe observes that the network will work only if it has an intuitive capability to track usage trends and the like.

“Building these networks creates both tension and opportunity in the local area, in so much that traditionally the information management on things like parking, travel movements and traffic flow has been within the sphere of the local or national authorities,” he says. “Naturally they have been quite protective of that and tried to have all of their own data collection, and all of their own information provision through their own controlled website, for example.”

In McCabe’s view, building a viable transport network based on electric vehicles will require the public and private sectors to work together to ensure the sources of information can be merged.

“There will be questions about how you get what is currently public information into private vehicles,” he says. “This will present a serious challenge for local authorities and the people who operate electric vehicle fleets.”

And it’s not only data that will need to be shared. Manchester’s scheme relies on private-sector backing and has been designed as a commercial network run for profit. At the same time, Plugged in Places has benefited from an initial £30m direct government subsidy, signalling an acceptance that the public sector clearly must play a leading role in driving the adoption of electric cars. And, given the challenges facing the global economy, the rate of investment may be problematic at best.

Crucially, part of the appeal of electric transport rests in its relatively low running cost per mile. In the future, drivers may find themselves being offered incentives to shop at certain supermarkets in order to “fill up” at a discount in their refuelling bays. Again, it’s a question of connecting the dots in order to make the network successful.

And there’s no doubt that any new electric networks will have to be run on a much more data-intensive basis. If half a country’s car fleet were to go electric, electricity demand would rise significantly – some estimates place it at upwards of 25 per cent. Managing the distribution of that power takes on greater importance. And central to that effort will be the development of a suitable technology framework to manage demand and pricing.

Live data

In a world populated by electric vehicles, reliable, real-time information becomes crucial. That’s especially important when it comes to energy costs – specifically the cost of electricity, which in future will vary at different times of the day. It is also important so that vehicle users know when and where they can recharge their cars to be sure of reaching their destinations.

“Think of a simple scenario where you’ve got five cars all in the same street that all come home from work at 6pm,” explains Giles Bridger, industrial products and electric vehicle lead at IBM Global Business Services. His work centres on designing an intelligent infrastructure that mitigates excessive demands on power distribution networks, improves usability and helps to avoid bottlenecks.

“If two of those users aren’t going to use their car for another 24 hours, whereas another one will be going out again three hours later, then with intelligence and two-way communication of information you can balance the user demand and satisfy them all. But if there’s no information and if the users just come home and plug in, then the result is an increase in full demand at peak time, which stretches the generating and distribution networks.”

In order to mitigate the problem, IBM is working with a consortium of electricity industry organisations to grapple with two issues: first, the user experience and, second, power distribution and consumption around the working day.

“That’s where intelligent infrastructure systems (IIS) come into play,” says Bridger. “They allow some control over demand for power through things such as variable pricing, building on things that the electricity industry is working on already with smart metering and smart grids.”

Under the circumstances, smart meters, which monitor the demand for power to give real insight into where, how much and why power is being used, become an important element in future networks.

According to Bridger, IIS will be instrumental in solving these everyday problems. “In particular, we’ve been looking at the electrical impacts of such a scenario and examining the potential impact of upgrading distribution networks,” he says. “Obviously there’s a potential cost on a unit basis for setting up public or private recharging posts – but what’s the potential cost of upgrading the connections to people’s homes and to what extent can you mitigate or avoid those physical costs by using smart intelligent networks?” At a national level the benefits are likely to be huge.

McCabe believes a culture change will be necessary to achieve this vision of an efficient future, as drivers will need to accept the need to be plugged into the network in terms of data as well as power.

“It is the power of the data management that can help you to achieve these breakthroughs, but it’s got to be in the interests of the individual to share that data because it makes their life easier. There also needs to be a conversation about the data protection and privacy issues involved.”

Ultimately, the emissions performance of electric vehicles will depend increasingly on the sources of electricity being used if the “sustainability argument” is going to be won. As such, it’s not only a question of convincing drivers that the future is electric. Utilities, governments, manufacturers and consumers will all need to come together in order to achieve a low-emission future for vehicles.

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North America, UK & Europe,


Lee Woodcock

Global product director - intelligent mobility

+44 121 483 6151


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