Connected urban mobility: where are you headed?
In my last blog post, I wrote that mobility platforms have to pool together as many mobility services and information, booking, and payment functions as possible in order to offer users added value. What innovative use cases can be opened up through this approach? What requirements have to be met so that mobility platforms can develop? And what happens then? Where will the journey take mobility platforms next?
In considering these questions, it’s worth taking a look at current research projects. Many of them have expanded the extent to which mobility and information services are linked, which opens up further gains in convenience and efficiency for mobility users. I’ve highlighted some particularly relevant projects below.
One aspect that is growing in importance and is sure to trigger innovative advances is how to incorporate and link navigation services with other modes of transportation and mobility services. In the following two projects, my colleagues at Bosch in Hildesheim are working on discovering innovative ways of using navigation services:
Multiple forms of mobility (multimodal mobility) have always been used to satisfy mobility needs, and nowadays they are increasingly being combined in a single journey as well (intermodal mobility). The goal of the PRÖVIMM project is to simplify this process by providing information prior to and during the trip. For instance, up-to-date information about motorized private transport (e.g. a traffic jam on a service road) is supplemented with the latest public transportation and P+R (park and ride) information and made available via website, app, and the navigation system. Users thus receive suggestions for intermodal routes, including when they should best change to a different mode of transportation and the easiest way of doing so. This also includes the return trip back to where they parked their vehicle. The result is a kind of guide through the various means of transportation. This project has major potential for improving the convenience of multimodal and intermodal travel and for lowering barriers to transfers and connections. Such a system also requires that the various services be connected together.
(The PRÖVIMM project is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of its “Von Tür zu Tür” funding program [English: “From Door to Door”]).
Another “guide” is being developed in the Green Navigation project, the goal of which is to optimize the effective range of e-vehicles. By linking together multiple sources of information, both driver and vehicle are put in a position where they can reach their destination more efficiently and without stress. The project basically pursues two approaches:
- Planning energy-optimized routes based on traffic data, charging station information, weather data, and vehicle and route characteristics.
- Improving the driving and operating strategy: the solution evaluates the efficiency of the driving style and makes recommendations to the driver; it also optimizes the vehicle’s energy consumption.
Besides improving the energy balance and environmental characteristics of electromobility, this solution also increases the acceptance of electromobility as a viable mode of transportation for commuters and occasional users. It could lead to more conventional motorized personal transport being replaced by environmentally friendly electromobility.
(The Green Navigation project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in the Electric Mobility South-West cluster).
These two projects clearly demonstrate that connecting more and more information and mobility services can open up exciting new fields of application with huge benefits. It’s impossible to tell today what innovations will become conceivable beyond these examples. The possibilities are virtually endless – provided the right partners find each other!
Given the large number of services available today, what I so glibly describe here as “connecting information and mobility services” is actually a major undertaking. It also represents a hurdle for those interested in being a part of such mobility platforms.
Technical foundations of mobility platforms
In two research projects in Berlin, Bosch Software Innovations is exploring the technical foundations of mobility platforms in order to lower the barriers to participating in the needed partner networks:
This project advances the connection of applications and data to new types of offers in the e‑mobility business. So far it is producing IT services, processes, and tools that should substantially reduce the technical development effort needed to create new combinations of mobility offers. For example, one focus of the research is to discover how to create a technical description of mobility services that would enable them to be incorporated into software applications and possibly billed for in real time.
One example of the various offers has already been demonstrated: how control signals from gating systems, for example, can be connected with access systems to charging infrastructure. This would make it possible for customers of a fleet operator to easily charge their vehicles at a gated parking facility. All the fleet operator has to do is connect to a cross-provider platform; connecting to each individual gate or parking facility operator isn’t necessary. This reduces the time to market for new types of offers and improves efficiency.
(emd is a project in the Berlin-Brandenburg Showcase for Electromobility funded by the German federal government)
In the Open Mobility Berlin project, mobility services related to vehicles, transportation, and energy are combined on an open B2B marketplace. To that end, the project carefully examines and harmonizes the requirements and interfaces of charging services, parking facility operators, public transportation, and car sharing. Coordinating the various interfaces will make it possible to integrate new similar mobility providers very quickly in the future. Combining different services will also be made easier, for instance:
- Integrating roaming processes to set up charging infrastructure that drivers can use independent of provider
- Connecting electric fleets and public transit so the city can have consistent and environmentally friendly mobility
- Connecting eCar-sharing fleets belonging to different providers to furnish the city with broad coverage
In addition, Open Mobility Berlin is investigating how multiple platforms can be connected to each other. The resulting findings could help facilitate the spread of mobility platforms in the future. For example, multiple regional platforms and partner networks can be connected together to create a consistently usable offer and take transregional mobility needs into account.
It’s plain to see that connecting various mobility and information services can open up completely new opportunities that make the use of mobility considerably more convenient, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly. What’s important is to lower the technical barriers to entry and help create an attractive partner network that opens the door to exciting combinations of services. There are no more limits to the imagination.
The development of urban mobility platforms will further improve transportation efficiency and represents a solid starting point for the sustainable urban development. Connected mobility will lead the way to the connected city.
What path do you think urban mobility will take?