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IAC Partners: Connected infrastructure, the key link for the development of autonomous mobility within everyone's reach

Will there be a fully autonomous car? Not until 2050 or perhaps never according to Toyota's research director, Gill Pratt.

Legal issues, technological impasses, new business models to be invented... all these elements suggest a hybrid solution where vehicles and infrastructures adapt to new modes of mobility.

The full potential of these connected infrastructures will be fully attained when they are completely integrated into a large interconnected ecosystem composed of all vehicles, pedestrians and infrastructures.

On one hand, our current infrastructures will have to evolve to meet these new challenges and on the other hand they will have to transform their business model by offering new services related to big data.

Today, there are three reasons for interconnecting the transport ecosystem and integrating connectivity technologies into infrastructure:

  • Develop mobility solutions for all: the lack of transportation in some rural areas is forcing every government to seek new solutions.
  • Improving road safety: with 90% of accidents linked to human error, the autonomous car is one solution to this issue.
  • Make mobility eco-responsible: the vehicle would become a platform offering new applications (carsharing, platooning, etc.).


A more accessible, integrated and developed multimodal mobility

As in smart grids and rail networks, the millions of data shared in real time within this ecosystem will allow the connected infrastructure to develop traffic regulation strategies to make it more fluid even under peak traffic or harsh weather conditions.

By integrating traffic conditions in a dynamic and comprehensive way, the infrastructure will be able to meet the needs of passengers regardless of their mode of transport and thus help them to find the most optimal mix, taking into account all the possibilities of multimodal traffic.

In the long term, this connected global ecosystem will allow the creation of mobility hubs that will promote travel opportunities and accessibility to a territory’s transport offering for everyone.


Increased road safety through coordinated infrastructure monitoring

The global and centralised coordination of the various users will also make it possible for everyone to live together more safely. The infrastructure will become able to identify a hazard, develop strategies and communicate to everyone (driver, pedestrians, traffic lights, etc.) the optimal response to adopt.

For example, a driver may see his car slow down in a preventive way if the light is about to turn orange or if a cyclist is at a blind spot.

In case of emergency, the centralized infrastructure will be able to contact them and adapt traffic to facilitate the delivery of the emergency vehicle.

Some experts question the possibility of cohabiting autonomous and human-driven vehicles on existing infrastructure in the medium term. In the long term, we can imagine that some connected motorways will allow this cohabitation.


Mobility with a reduced environmental impact as it is more efficient

All this fluidity will also reduce the environmental impact of our vehicles, limiting unnecessary stops and optimizing the distances traveled.

Usually, coordination between vehicles will allow better management of track occupancy, avoidance of bottlenecks and optimization of distances traveled.

In addition, vehicles will be able to travel in groups in order to reduce their energy consumption; tests to this end are under way in Europe with heavy goods vehicles, which follow each other without drivers and save up to 10% on fuel.

This coordination also clears the way for new eco-responsible uses such as short-distance carpooling, a subtle mix between a BlaBlaCar and an Uber.

On a larger scale, the more efficient use of mobility systems will reduce their number by optimizing their occupancy rate, which is also beneficial for our planet. Finally, this autonomous ecosystem will be a revolution in our way of consuming: the car will become a service.


Towards new business models

Public authorities promote the emergence of such technologies in view of the benefits in terms of mobility, environment and public health. Infrastructure managers and car manufacturers have also taken initiatives to develop this breakthrough, which can generate new revenues.

  • This will allow the infrastructure manager to use and resell the collected data. It will be able to use real-time network information to optimize its management and maintenance of its network. In addition, it will be able to complete its offer with infrastructure data, with content from other mobility stakeholders (public transportation, parking lots, service stations, points of interest, etc.), to offer new services oriented towards the passenger experience: finding a seat, a hotel, a battery charging station, etc. Finally, it will be able to diversify its revenues like Colas, which, thanks to its positive energy roads, intends to recharge electric vehicles.
  • The manufacturer will be able to open up to new business models by making the car a multi-service market place. The collection and processing of data from connected vehicles can form a basis for many services, ranging from predictive maintenance to customized insurance offers, depending on the driving style and frequency observed including entertainment content.

In short, one could imagine, as in a fictional film, roads where only infrastructure-assisted autonomous driving is possible, with vehicles capable of driving safely and legally at over 300 km/h.

The Audi A8, launched in 2018, is the first production car equipped with an automated driving system, with a possible connection to many telecommunications networks. 

From 2025 onwards, the first fully automated transportation systems are expected to appear on private sites. At that time, autonomous vehicles should also start to run on motorways, provided that the infrastructure has been adapted. The deployment of connected mobility for all will therefore depend largely on political decisions and spatial planning strategies.

Despite a cost that may seem prohibitive, this new form of mobility must be seen as a revolution, like the train in its time.

Everyone will be a winner: from the user to the infrastructure manager, from the car manufacturer to the environment, all that remains is to establish the connection!



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