Connected mobility across member states

connected mobility across member states
Director-General for Mobility and Transport Henrik Hololei © Arno Mikkor (EU2017EE)

Government Europa reports on the speech of Henrik Hololei, director general for DG MOVE, detailing the commission’s vision for safe, clean and connected mobility across member states.

The European Commission is seeking to oversee a transformation of connected mobility across member states which will enhance their safety, cleanliness and connectivity – all three pillars are outlined in the Europe on the Move initiative. As a result, the commission will oversee a renewed focus on safety through a new standard of safety features, such as advanced emergency braking, lane assist systems, as well as the potential for pedestrian and cyclist detection systems for trucks. Meanwhile, the commission continues its attempts to deliver a low-emission mobility sector through its CO2 emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles – whereby a 15% reduction in 2019’s average CO2 emissions will be required in 2025.

Continuing their support of R&D for decarbonisation, the commission is taking action to make it easier for aerodynamic trucks to be designed and developed, whilst labelling for tyres is being encouraged and batteries improved. In order to ensure that Europe is a pioneer of fully automated and connected mobility, the commission will propose a strategy which looks towards mobility for all, including co-operation between road users, assisting the elderly, as well as seeking to revolutionise the freight sector.

At 2018’s Transport Research Arena (TRA) conference, held in Vienna, Austria, on 16-19 April, Government Europa Quarterly heard the director general for the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE), Henrik Hololei, speak about the commission’s vision for safe, clean and connected mobility across member states, prior to the publication of the third mobility package.

A connected future for mobility

Hololei said: “The TRA conference takes place in the eve of the publication of our third mobility package and, of course, it will consider the rapid development of transport automation and a need to accelerate monitoring and reduction of emissions from transport and the safety of transport.” He continued that the innovation, and part of the automation, which is taking place serves European citizens through a higher level of safety – curbing road deaths and serious injuries, of which there are far too many in Europe.

With the overarching narrative of this edition of the TRA being the ‘digital era for transport’, the director general added: “We are entering a time where digitalisation is awaiting all our activities and transport is the basic support for human activities. The digital reality will affect numerous aspects of the system and will be more reliant on digitalised systems.”

It is anticipated that these systems will vary between those onboard, those means by which mobility users communicate in the interconnected vision for mobility’s future. The automated vehicles of the future will demand co-operation and connectivity, as well as the development of new networks such as 5G.

Hololei added: “The 5G network is absolutely essential for car-to-car infrastructure communication on one hand and also to accelerate automated driving.”

What issues are affecting the acceleration of mobility?

The director general addressed some of the issues which are affecting the acceleration of mobility, which lie in both the quantity and quality of physical infrastructure, whilst freight transport and logistics are seeing significant changes in regard to digitalisation and automation, whether that be optimised roads, just-in-time delivery, or a way to bring together differing transport modes.

Hololei went on: “Then you come to the issue of people, and that is something we need to take very seriously because everything is always about people. Our activities have to facilitate people’s lives, but on the other hand we have to understand that automation [and] digitalisation [are] providing a big challenge for the workforce. We see that there are three particular elements which are having an effect: digitalisation, automation and the ageing population.”

Through automation, a large number of roles will be transformed as part of the wider drive towards connected mobility across member states. Hololei used a US report to illustrate the transformation potential, which outlined that 47% of jobs could be changed; meanwhile, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development argues for around 15%.

“It’s probably somewhere in the middle, but the reality is also that our systems, the retraining and all the other systems and support systems, are not really ready for a very fast evolution.”

2018: Europe’s year of multimodality

“Multimodal transport is something which [will be] a norm for the mobility of the future and all the transport will become much more integrated,” Hololei said. But in order to deliver this, he stressed the important role that digitalisation will play in bringing transport data into one central hub, which poses several questions:

  • How can digital transport data be managed?;
  • What is proprietary, what is not?; and
  • How can the data be used to its best potential?

The director general added: “The overarching thread in our policy is decarbonisation: we see that with innovation [and] with digitalisation; future mobility must be decarbonised mobility. We are moving towards low-carbon mobility. We are keeping the door open for innovative approaches.”

An overarching vision for European mobility

Despite this, Hololei explained that when transforming connected mobility across member states, the commission strives to be technology neutral. Owing to the evolution of decarbonised alternatives and, as a result, alternative sources for energy and power which could be a dominant feature for the future of transport, the commission intends for the technology to dictate policy, rather than the reverse. “In reality, I think it’s going to be a mix of different elements and I think that we have to keep that possibility open; we should probably make choices which actually might not be educated choices,” Hololei explained.

“At this stage, it is very important that we see that everything which has actually contributed to decarbonisation has a right to exist and also has the right to compete.”
He continued by announcing his belief in the market as the appropriate judge as to which direction the differing transport modes should follow, but also the varying solutions. “One size definitely does not fit all.”

Furthering transport research

The director general discussed the importance of policy-driven transport research, which was also outlined as being crucial by the commissioner for transport, Violeta Bulc, as well as stressing the importance of the three structures in supporting policy solutions.

“When we talk about transport, the key elements that we want to achieve are safety, the security of system, the decarbonisation of the system, the digitalisation of the system and, of course, we want to see that Europe continues to be a global leader and the trendsetter.”

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