Design & Innovation

The Future of Mobility

Say hello to cleaner, faster and more flexible mobility.

The way in which we travel between home and work, between cities and even across continents will be entirely transformed in the coming two decades. In fact, the reality of super-fast, clean and technically advanced new forms of mobility could be here in as little as 20 years, if regulators keep pace with technology developments, the audience heard at the ‘Know the Future’ event series at Mercedes me Store in October.

This bold new vision for the mobility of the future was discussed by expert panelists including André Dutkowski, Senior Manager Product Marketing, Strategy & CASE at Mercedes-Benz Australia; Chris Woods, Bosch Australia regional president, Chassis Systems Control; and Sara Luchian, Business Strategy Director at Virgin Hyperloop One.

The panellists unequivocally agreed that the future of mobility is undoubtably electric. With Mercedes-Benz introducing its first electric vehicle, the EQC, onto Australian roads in the near future, the topic of electric powered mobility was timely.

“It [the EQC] is the first of a breed of seven electric vehicles under the EQ brand,” said Dutkowski. “We’re covering all segments in the next two to five years. We want to make it [electric vehicles] as normal as possible and not something that is a science experiment. Making an SUV shows what we want to achieve – and we will be covering all SUVs and beautiful sedans.”

Dutkowski added that electric motoring is just one feature of a future of clean, flexible mobility. “It goes further, on top of that, we really want the cars to make our customers’ lives easier. Customers will have access to the fastest charging networks in the market. Customers might be able to share vehicles through apps. Or, they might be able to purchase discounted Hyperloop ticket though their car and pay for it on the Mercedes account.”

People could well find themselves with more time on their hands soon, too, thanks to revolutionary new methods of transport such as Hyperloop One, the first new mode of transport in over a century. Luchian outlined the company’s vision of transporting people between cities through high-speed, high-frequency, low-passenger volume pods. With the ability to reach speeds over 1000 km/h with zero direct emissions, it won’t be your average daily commute.

“We’re talking about connecting cities – by doing that, you have the potential to transform entire regions,” said Luchian. “People can access more affordable housing or commute between major cities. That offers opportunities for education, accessing to housing and healthcare. It changes cities into commuter stops,” she said.

The Californian-based Virgin Hyperloop One faces regulatory challenges, however, Luchian, conceded. “We’re years away, not decades…we intend to get certification by 2024,” she said. “It depends on local government but we’re aiming for full passenger launch by late 2020s.”

Bosch Australia’s Chris Woods also explained how their company is partnering with Mercedes-Benz to develop automotive systems tailored for the Australian and New Zealand markets that will eventually give drivers time back in the car to do other tasks. “We’re a number of years away from full automation, where, for instance a driver could be sending emails while ‘driving’ the car to work.”

While transformation will happen first in Europe, followed by the US and China, change closer to home is inevitable, too. Bosch is currently partnering with Mercedes-Benz on automotive systems tailored for the local markets – a project that requires significant and ongoing research and development. “Mapping is important – we need to be able to localise the vehicle through high definition 3D maps,” said Woods.

He added that local conditions vary greatly across the globe. “The new p-turns on Hoddle Street [in Melbourne] are a challenge for automotive cars,” he said. “And Australia’s definition of a highway is very different from Europe, especially Germany. In Australia we are much more restricted with speed limit, but we also have rural roads, concrete barriers, no barriers and vegetation. We need to try and make cars deal with these different scenarios,” he said.

While the road ahead for new forms of transport and mobility could have some twists and turns, what is clear that there is no escaping the future. It will be cleaner, greener, more flexible and intuitive than ever before.

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