The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has released a report analysing the future of road transport as society adopts automation and decarbonisation.
The report, titled ‘The future of road transport – Implications of automated, connected, low-carbon and shared mobility’, outlines the key disruptive factors expected to have a substantial effect on road transport in the EU, including connected mobility, autonomous vehicles and the transition to low emission fuel sources, as well as outside factors such as population shifts and urbanisation; and details the opportunities presented by these changes to implement safe, sustainable transport policy.
Biagio Ciuffo, lead author of the report, said: “New transport technologies on their own won’t spontaneously make our lives better. Improvements in governance and the development of innovative mobility solutions will be crucial to ensure that the future of transport is cleaner, safer and more equitable than its car-centred present. Living labs will allow the potential users test the novelties in real life situations. Their feedback will feed into the final version of mobility solutions that will genuinely serve people’s needs and be aligned with the values and expectations of society. Ideally a network of such labs across Europe would allow exchange of results, for optimising utility and costs of new technologies.”
The report identifies significant challenges currently presented by road transport across the EU, including the impact of cars powered by fossil fuels on climate change, the detrimental effect on public health of widespread air pollution and the loss in productivity brought about by congestion – road congestion across the EU directly causes productivity losses worth 1% of the bloc’s gross domestic product – and strongly recommended a comprehensive, long term policy framework to address both the current issues and those likely to be posed by the influx of technology in mobility. The report’s authors suggested a system of citizen engagement when developing strategies for governance on the future of road transport, including a proposed network of ‘living labs’, whereby citizens could be directly involved in trials and rollout of transport innovation.