A summary of an exciting session with Daniel Ruiz on the future of mobility. Daniel gave us an insight into what is coming next, some idea as too when and how teams he has led have established the UK as one of the leading nations when it comes to Autonomous Vehicles (AV).
Daniel introduced himself with a quick trot through an impressive resume. Starting with an attempt to break the water speed record. Which, although he admitted was very exciting, an opportunity beckoned to join TfL. This meant an introduction to the challenge of moving people and goods.
A once in a lifetime Olympics kept Daniel busy and led to a broader interest in the use of data and innovation in mobility. An invitation to be the launch director for the Transport Catapult came next. It was here that the concept of UK leadership in the Autonomous Vehicle sector came about.
Test. Test. Test
Daniel then instigated the Centre for Connected Vehicles a joint venture between BEIS and DFT. A dedicated place for testing that would help UK business innovate. These organisations will need help setting up the testing. A new service was required, which led to Zenzic With Daniel as CEO he launched a number of initiatives. One of which is the CAM test bed for new products wanting to interface with an Autonomous Vehicle.
It is through testing and the expertise this demands where UK leadership is coming to the fore. With a mix of locations, both closed and open. Offering a high degree of connectivity across different types of connection; with multiple levels of instrumentation and digital output, the CAM test bed is world class.
So where are we heading?
What is shaping the outlook for the future is the Roadmap for 2030 created by Zenzic. The roadmap is intended to be dynamic, updated on an ongoing basis. Adopted by Japan, Singapore and the big 4 car manufacturers.
The benefits of shifting to Autonomous Vehicles now has some empirical weight. With research findings indicating multiple benefits being realised. For instance an improvement in air quality due to lower brake dust output; reduced degradation in the highway as vehicles can be 'green lighted' through the journey, reducing braking/stopping and wear and tear on the road surface. Alongside the expected fuel savings; improved safety and vehicle asset utilisation (no more wasted hours parked on a drive).
The future is actually more about having mixed modes of transport (as well as AV's), especially in urban centres. However, the suburban modal mix and offering requires improvement due to continued dependence on the car. For rural users the outlook is that the car will remain king. In the urban setting, we will see more last-mile choices (e.g. eScooters) along with the rise of the Mobility-as-a-Service platform (MaaS). This will see improved ticketing options and seamless journey planning, thus making the jump to public / shared / autonomous transport modes more attractive.
Bumps in the Road?
However, we have some interesting challenges ahead. The shift to EV and the removal of the combustion engine; along with Brexit and the fallout from Covid has shifted the motor industry focus. How will UK Plc fair? That is dependent on a number of factors.
A positive consideration is the world class leadership the UK has in testing Autonomous Vehicles. Alongside changes in legislation which now mean it is legal to have an AV on a UK road.
Cautious and incremental. Validated through tesiting. Backed by legalisation. Overall, the future for AV in the UK looks to be heading in the right direction.
My thanks to Daniel for a very enjoyable discussion.