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European Events Show Pushes for Changes in Transport

The EU is pushing for greater automation and innovation in the transportation sector. Two recent events show the direction this may take; the 4th High-Level Meeting on Connected and Automated Driving (HLM CAD), and the 6th Mobility as a Service (MaaS) Summit. [1-3] 

The HLM CAD meeting, which took place in Finland on October 7, addressed “themes of moving towards human-centered approach in transport automation”. [2,3] Among the speakers were the ministers of Transport of both Finland and Sweden. The meeting focused on three key themes: 

  • The need to develop and deploy transport automation in a human-centric manner.
  • The need to enhance data sharing between the various stakeholders in the ecosystems of transport automation. 
  • The need to reform the regulatory landscape concerning transport automation. [3]

This parallels points raised at the MaaS summit, which took place on September 29, and where the EC Commissioner for transport and mobility Adina Vălean said the Commission sees the post-Covid-19 context as “an opportunity to rebuild better our transport system and to make a huge contribution to overall economic recovery”. The president of the MaaS Alliance, Jacob Bangsgaard, said what is needed for the growth and development of MaaS are “concrete enablers of an open ecosystem”. [1]

Such enablers are not only technical but also legal. For example, there is active discussion about revisions for the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Regulation, which “addresses the implementation and development of a Europe-wide network of railway lines, roads, inland waterways, maritime shipping routes, ports, airports, and railroad terminals.” [4] 

 

Personal comment

I believe it is a good sign that the regulatory ecosystem is taking a prime place in the Commission’s strategy. The technical challenges are significant, but even if companies can technically achieve the desired features for MaaS and autonomy that would not be enough. For these technologies to bring about the desired social and economic effects there need to be a clear regulatory framework. In the European case, this is especially so due to the many diverse regulatory ecosystems, many times shifting depending on country and jurisdiction. 

Both events were clearly scoped; toward Connected and Automated in the HLM CAD and toward MaaS in the summit, and did not cover issues like charging infrastructure. Of course, automation and business models that seamlessly tie together modes of transport do not necessitate electrification. Mobility as a Service can be a single ticket that goes from a gas-powered taxi or bus to a train. But, as e-mobility solutions like e-scooters gain in popularity they can easily be folded into any MaaS platform, thus increasing the share of electrified transportation. Autonomy, like MaaS, does not require electrification of the powertrain. However, in the long run, it does look like the most likely and best solution. [5] To me, an open question that could be noted for both automation and MaaS is therefore whether they will influence the emergence of an increased electrification of the transport sector. The clear take-away though, of both meetings, is that the Commission recognizes the need for regulatory reform in order to move forward with automation and cross-mobility cooperation. 

 

Written by Joshua Bronson, RISE Mobility & Systems.

 

Sources

1. 2020-10-12 EC Pledges legal framework for MaaS

2. 2020-10-7 High-level meeting on connected and automated driving aims at strengthening cooperation

3. 2020-10-08 4th High Level Meeting on the Connected and Automated Driving

4. Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T)

5. 2020-07-13 The Intersection Between Self-Driving Cars and Electric Cars