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Commentary from Prof. Uwe Clausen: autonomous driving is only one aspect

Jun 5, 2018

Hypermotion brings together mobility and logistics in one event for the second time this year. It was high time for such a concept, states Prof. Uwe Clausen, Director of the Fraunhofer IML. In his commentary, the logistics expert explains how previously separate topic areas are moving closer together and why connected mobility is the next big future topic.

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The next big future topic of the mobility and logistics industry: connected mobility

Car accidents happen every day and are ignored in the flood of news. However, if an autonomous car is involved in a fatal accident, contrary to manufacturers’ promises, as happened a few weeks ago in the US state of Arizona, the whole world discusses it. The accident has consequences for the entire industry – and the enthusiasm for autonomous driving is crumbling.

In any case, autonomous driving is still in its infancy when it comes to widespread use. There are already many assistance systems and technological prerequisites in place for full automation – but there are also a lot of challenges. Completely heterogeneous infrastructures and environmental conditions, for example. It will certainly be more than ten years before autonomous or more automated and conventional journeys really work side by side. In general, however, autonomous driving is only one aspect of the whole.

One topic that is already current but points even more strongly to the future is certainly that of connected mobility. After all, it is becoming increasingly important how people plan the various legs of their route and thus how resources can be allocated to different mobility needs as well as how the interweaving of public and individual transport with people’s own private or others’ private transport can be combined, orchestrated and optimised through digitisation.

On the one hand, this results in completely new concepts. With passenger transport, for example, companies such as Flixbus or Uber often establish themselves on the market due to their strong customer orientation. With freight transport, future-oriented companies such as uShip or start-ups such as Cargonexx are gaining ground. In addition to new concepts, however, things are also developing that have existed for a long time – such as the bicycle, which is experiencing a renaissance thanks to rental systems and better infrastructures. Here, users as well as cities and providers learn how traditional means of transport can be further developed and intelligently integrated into the transport system.

Large countries with large markets such as the USA or China are of course particularly driving developments forward. However, there are innovative ideas from countries all over the world, especially in the field of mobility and logistics. One example of this is Estonia. The company Starship Technologies which is based there is revolutionising logistics with its self-propelled delivery robots. It is not just Silicon Valley where innovation can be found.

With the connecting of traffic and transport systems, it is becoming more and more essential to “think together” the formerly separate issues of mobility and logistics. On the one hand, both often use the same infrastructures, but on the other hand, there are more and more technologies that – despite different parameters and conditions – offer interesting solutions for both areas. Space is tight, especially in our cities

and professional, freight and leisure traffic usually share the same traffic routes. This makes it all the more important to understand how the individual traffic types develop and how they can be influenced. We need to communicate and work across the former boundaries in order to learn with each other and from each other.

In November 2018, Hypermotion will bring together mobility and logistics in one event for the second time. In this ecosystem, users, practitioners, scientists, established companies and start-ups exchange ideas and design and disseminate solutions for a world in motion. It was high time! The concept has been very well received and will be further developed this year with new partners, topics and conferences. After all, there are many challenges for mobility and logistics, but also many opportunities. Digitisation, alternative drives or automation approaches – these driving forces also promote other business models and enable progress.

About Prof. Dr.-Ing. Uwe Clausen

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Uwe Clausen

Prof. Uwe Clausen is head of the Institute for Transport Logistics at the University of Dortmund and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML and headed the future study 2016 “The Last Mile” study for the supplier ZF. Previously Clausen worked as Project Manager Logistics for Deutsche Post and as European Operations Director at Amazon. At Hypermotion 2017 Clausen spoke on the topic “Urban Mobility: Smart Cities”.

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