The Future of Mobility

Mobility is entering a new age, transformed by innovation, digital technology and a drive to become more sustainable. Due to its automotive industry mobility is a traditional stronghold in Southern Germany. However, as the mobility landscape changes, new players are on the rise, and strongly influenced by four major trends: autonomous driving, electrification, connectivity, and shared mobility. This transformation paves the way for a new mobility ecosystem in which established industry players try to rethink their offerings and new players try to disrupt the status quo.

Mobility of the Future

The new forms of transportation are made possible to a large extent by advances in technology. Whereas the competitive advantage of automotive companies used to be very hardware driven, the ones to succeed in the future are those who engage with the ecosystem and partner with tech companies or develop in-house tech capabilities. The development of autonomous driving for example is highly dependent upon a range of technologies such as sensors, cameras, radar and laser.  Another example is urban air mobility, which is a rapidly evolving field that aims to use small aircrafts, such as electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, to transport people and goods within urban areas. The current developments within urban air mobility is made possible by advances in a range of technologies and hardware such as electric motors, batteries, sensors and flight control systems.

Why is this interesting?

Autonomous driving could revolutionise mobility for consumers by making driving more safe and convenient when vehicles become driverless. Whereas autonomous driving for consumers is still a futuristic scenario, industry has already put the technology in use in their intralogistics. One example is BMW iFactory where cars are manoeuvred automatically through the factory using sensors along the route, obstacle detection and a drive-planning software that transmits commands via mobile communications. A technology developed in collaboration with two young start-ups. Although Denmark is not a car producing country, automated intralogistics has the potential to increase efficiency in e.g. the wind turbine manufacturing. Logistics automation is another field with high relevance for Denmark. Fernride, a Munich start-up, enables automated, sustainable logistics by combining remote drivers with autonomous technologies making it possible to control up to 50 trucks at once. Using this technology in container and logistics terminals can increase safety and sustainability as well as help solve the problem of lack of drivers.

In the same way as shared mobility services changed our transportation behaviour, urban air mobility (UAM) has the potential to change the way we move people and goods in and between cities. As technology advances, battery range increases, noise levels are reduced, and infrastructure is developed, UAM becomes a real alternative to other transportation means. In contrast to most other electrified vehicles, UAMs does not take up space on the roads and by offering fast mobility, it helps connect people to cities and regions by offering the flexibility of mobility as a service. Lilium, a Munich based UAM company is an example of the hype around UAM. Established in 2015 and a unicorn after just five years proves that UAM is seen as one solution to the future of mobility.

How Far Are we?

As the first country in the world, Germany has allowed autonomous vehicles on public roads under certain conditions and thereby put itself at the forefront when it comes to the legislation, which is crucial to implementing the technological advances of autonomous driving.
Urban air mobility requires new legislation and in 2022, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published a regulation for operation of UAMs as the first regulatory authority in the world.
In 2022, the German Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMDV) invested EUR 15 million in urban air mobility projects.
Autonomous driving is supported through a range of different funding schemes, one of the newest being the ‘MINGA’ research project which focus on developing Munich’s automated local transport system with ride pooling, solo buses and bus platoons, which BMDV supported with almost EUR 13 million.

Southern Germany is home to many mobility start-ups, many of which have spun out of the universities in the region. In 2020, the doors opened to a new entrepreneurship centre, Munich Urban Colab, which is established in a partnership between the Technical University of Munich, UnternehmerTUM and the City of Munich. An example, which is highlighted in ICDK Munich’s Outlook on Green and Sustainable Mobility of the Future (2021).

In order to boost the creation of successful deeptech university spin-outs and start-ups, TUM Venture Labs have been created. Currently, Venture Labs have been established in 11 technology domains, whereas a new TUM Venture Lab Mobility is in the making.

There are close to 70 autonomous vehicle start-ups in Germany and more than 15 in Munich alone. The most well-known urban air mobility start-ups in Germany are Lilium and Velocopter, but many tech start-ups active in the field of autonomous driving are also part of the start-ups ecosystem of UAM.

Investment companies, private equity firms, venture capital funds as well as business angels are investing in autonomous driving start-ups.

Developing UAM is very capital intensive, investors include private equity firms, and venture capital funds as well as traditional mobility providers such Toyota and Boeing.

The transformation of mobility paves the way for innovation and ecosystem initiatives, which aim at keeping Germany in the race while also facilitating a shift towards greener transportation options. The traditional players in the mobility sector such as car and aircraft manufacturers have realised that new technology will disrupt their business if they do not embrace it and are actively engaging with other players in the ecosystem to foster innovation.

The Research Cluster M-Cube (Munich Cluster for the Future of Mobility in Metropolitan Regions) is a key initiative bringing together strong partners from government, research and industry. The cluster focuses on technical and social innovation. The cluster benefits from the unique geographical concentration of innovation actors in the mobility sector in the Munich region as a “learning region” to develop scalable solutions with model character for metropolitan regions in Germany and worldwide. 

In Baden-Württemberg, three Innovation Campuses have been established as major research and innovation platforms. One of them is the Innovation Campus Mobility of the Future (Stuttgart/Karlsruhe), where the aim is to develop new, ground breaking technology within mobility and production. Through new formats for innovation collaboration, such as test and demonstration labs, researcher mobility schemes and Innovation Challenges, the ICM brings its knowledge partners, University of Stuttgart and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology together with industry partners from in particular the automotive sector.

TechPlomacy perspectives

Autonomous technology, including autonomous vehicles, has a highly disruptive potential when it starts to break out of the emerging state and gain wider adoption and viability. Since 2017, different steps towards a wider deployment of autonomous vehicles has been the subject of a variety of discussions – but all of them on a more hypothetically level: will it be safe? How to make sure it will have a positive impact on road safety? What about liability for accidents?  What about the risk of being hacked? When cars rely on software for their functionality, it also expands potential threat vectors that malicious actors can misuse for example to launch cyberattacks on infrastructure or take over control of specific vehicles. Furthermore, and inspired by the classic trolley problem, the topic has been subject to ethical philosophical debates.  With the recent breakthroughs, where self-driving cars are hitting the streets without safety drivers, it is important to further engage in these questions together with the companies that are developing autonomous technology as well as governments by which the deployment of autonomous vehicles is highly regulated.

Let’s connect

Please reach out to Line Holm Nedergaard linned@um.dk for any inquiries. ICDK Munich offer services to both corporates, SME’s and academic partners looking to dive further into the future of mobility.

Global Tech Trends conference on 12.SEPTEMBER

Innovation Centre Denmark launched our Global Tech Trends platform in collaboration with TechSavvy.media, which gathers 12 unique descriptions of technological trends from all over the world. You can learn more from the people behind the reports at our Global Tech Trends conference on September 12th.

WHEN

12TH OF SEPTEMBER, 11:30 AM - 5.30 PM

WHERE

STRANDGADE 25D, 1401 KØBENHAVN

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