Monday, 17 june 2019 | Redacción CEU
There are many questions that arise when we talk about the future: How far will technology go? How will it affect our day-to-day? How will our environment change? Many of these issues will be reflected in the layout of our cities. They keep growing and, given this, firms seek solutions that can both respond to environmental needs and improve our lifestyle in big cities. As a result, brands have thrown themselves into the design of a new futuristic mobility. Among their most avant-garde ideas, we can find long tubes where vehicles and capsules are propelled at high speed, flying taxis and suspended transport systems. Not for that reason, other ideas, which in principle seem closer to our conventional transport model, fail to surprise us.
From the island of Gotland and its electric road project, we move only a few kilometers and focus our attention on Stockholm. The last UITP Global Public Transport Summit has just been held there. As we mentioned in the past, Sweden is one of the countries that is strongly committed to the new sustainable solutions on mobility. One of the proposals that has drawn our attention in this international event is the latest prototype presented by the Swedish firm Scania, which belongs to the Volkswagen Group. It is a fully-electric, modular and autonomous vehicle that can operate both as a bus and a truck according to needs and during the same day.
Although proposals such as the Hyperloop technology (although it has recently lost much of its charm) seem to eclipse electric and autonomous buses, Scania NXT has all the ingredients to become a futuristic and disruptive vehicle model. The main feature that makes this car stand out from the rest is its ability to quickly transform itself from a passenger means of transport to a truck. The proposal of the Swedish firm is for this vehicle, which is eight meters long and has a range of 245 kilometers, to take on the functions of a bus during the morning and early afternoon, the transport of goods in the evening and the garbage collection in the night.
Given this plan, a question quickly arises: How to carry passengers and garbage in the same vehicle? Indeed, Scania does not suggest that the passengers of this automobile will have to put up with the smells of the trash. Obviously, the firm also wants its occupants to travel in a cabin which is fully adapted to the transport of people. Then, it proposes an original and very versatile solution. The idea of the firm is a vehicle that supports different modules on the same base. Therefore, it is an autonomous and electric automobile that might have as many uses as different module designs their developers are able to think up.
According to Scania's design, this vehicle hides its batteries in the main module. In the base, which is composed of two small modules, there are its axles, engines and the steering control. The great challenge of this proposal lies in the construction of large centers where the modules can be stored, and charged and their fast exchange can be carried out. However, its creators still have time to think about the details of the implementation of this new mobility system. Its launching is not scheduled until 2030.
Little by little, we are noticing what the new mobility might look like. It is not the first time that we have observed this type of esthetic and ideas in the urban transport proposals for future. The Toyota e-Palette concept is a good example of this. It is also an electric and autonomous vehicle, which is similar to a bus (with three different sizes), that proposes interchangeable spaces for different purposes: distribution, street selling, means of transport,... This project, which was presented at CES 2018, already has the support of large firms such as Amazon, Mazda, Pizza Hut, Uber and DiD.
We could see in the last edition of CES another proposal of this type. It is the Mercedes Vision Urbanetic, which is also an electric and autonomous vehicle that can hold different types of cabin in its chassis. In principle, it is designed to transport passengers (up to twelve passengers in a circular layout) and goods (with a useful space of 3.7 meters and 10 cubic meters), but it might also include new models of cabin for different purposes, as it has already been proposed by Toyota and Scania.
More remote but also inspired by the environment care and new mobility needs, we find logistical proposals such as Renault EZ-PRO or Enride T-Pod (the latter already in operation). There are also projects like the Continental one which are even more avant-garde and bet on autonomous vehicles that transport both people and delivery robots (known as robotdogs). These bots are responsible for delivering the packages to their recipients. The future of urban mobility is also based on the search for alternatives that can put an end to the problem of the last mile.
The great advances in the automotive industry, the design of new vehicles and the changes of user habits and preferences largely determine the new challenges that professionals and leaders in the automotive sector must face. Consequently, the demand for specialized professionals who are able to manage and boost the resources effectively increases day after day. The CEU IAM Business School has designed a Automotive Management Development Program that offers a global view of the new technological trends in this industry with the aim of training future leaders in the sector. Ask for further information!