Safety, congestion and emissions are three areas that could benefit from new and emerging technologies, a new paper has concluded.
Published yesterday (11 July), the TRL Academy paper, ‘Transport 2020: Addressing future mobility needs’, explains how new modes of transport including autonomous and electric vehicles, can unlock the challenges of road network availability, accessibility and air quality.
On self-driving cars, the report says there are a number of questions to be answered before the technology can become commonplace. These centre on the issue of safety – can drivers be persuaded to relinquish control, and will doing so have a detrimental effect on road awareness and driving skills?
However, it acknowledges that autonomous vehicles offer the potential to increase productivity by freeing ‘drivers’ to focus on work-related tasks, child care, or social engagement. The paper also notes how these vehicles could also offer greater mobility to people who are unable to drive.
Also discussed is the ethical question of allowing artificial intelligence to decide who lives or dies in the event of a collision.
Looking at electric vehicles, the report recognises the need to reduce emissions but expresses concern over the potential impact on the National Grid during peak travel periods.
Despite these challenges, the report concludes that electric, connected and autonomous vehicles ‘hold the key’ to a sustainable model of transport and mobility that addresses the current air quality crisis in our towns and cities, while enabling accessibility.
The paper adds that new modes of transport have the potential to ‘transform all of our lives’ and therefore, a continued, collaborative effort is required to rigorously test the full spectrum of impacts.