Missing Factors in Mobility Technology Integration

A recent study, New Mobility & Road Infrastructure: international benchmark 2020, led by Routes de France and the European Union Road Federation (ERF), using pre-pandemic data, suggests a dire need for government support and private sector innovation.

Simon Gianordoli, policy and project officer at ERF, explains the study, on connected and autonomous mobility, analyzed regulatory and legislative advancements within this field to comprehend “what is and what would be the role of the road infrastructure”. Top of the rankings for this were the Netherlands and Sweden. “The Netherlands is considered to be the world leader in this field according to the available data, having already launched the first platooning test in 2016.” He adds that the nation’s logistics and freight sector is considering autonomous and connected mobility. This takes into account the country’s geographical and trade position in Europe. The Netherlands has also been relying heavily on Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), with a particular focus on road equipment than on the road itself.

He adds: “The Scandinavian countries are all very advanced in this type of mobility. However, the level of technical maturity and strategic thinking of the Swedish public authorities on many items seems more advanced than in the neighboring countries. Also, Sweden can count on very strong cooperation between its public authorities and its automotive industry. The United Kingdom and Norway follow in our ranking showing a two-speed Europe of mobility.”

Specifying standards

Niels Peter Skov Andersen, chair of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s Technical Committee for Intelligent Transport Systems mentions a Flemish pilot of the European C-Roads Platform, which is a joint initiative of European Member States and road operators for testing and implementing C-ITS services. He explains: “The project’s idea is to develop specifications for the infrastructure part of connected and autonomous vehicle standards, this work is done by profiling the ETSI’s standards. Similarly, the C-Roads profiling for the infrastructure, the CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium have elaborated a profile for the vehicles. The idea is to that the end user can travel across all of Europe and benefit from the same services.”

“The ETSI standards are very much seen as first step to a number of phases to get to autonomous driving. A typical road operator would probably expect infrastructure investment to be written off over a period of at least 25 years. That means even with the ETSI standards, there is a need to consider whether the standards can be extended to autonomous driving. We try to future-proof the standards keeping backwards compatibility, so that standards users can add features and software updates without invalidating their investments, which is essential infrastructure operator and also for the car manufacturers.”

Common standards

The development of common standards is essential to the development of mobility technology integration, and yet some countries are approaching it more cautiously than others. Southern countries are taking this approach for various reasons. They are not sure about the final use case of the connected technologies, and they have questions about their implementation.

Gianordoli explains: “For example, France has a national strategy towards connected and autonomous vehicles but it appears more and more clearly that the focus is more relying on collective means of transport rather that private cars. On the other hand, southern European countries do not have a clear, concise and established regulatory framework towards autonomous and connected vehicles. In our benchmark, we observed that Spain and Portugal did not have a definite legislative and technical stance. It would appear as a blocking situation in developing such technologies.”

The extent to which the progress of integrating technologies is dependent on legislation, government support and private sector innovation is important to consider. Gianordoli says the most advanced countries in this field have the most open legislation. They also are enabling trials, experiments and testbeds and he finds that they are creating an attractive and innovative business environment. Their aim is to send a clear signal to investors and corporations.

He adds: “Moreover, clear and sectoral strategies on mobility technologies gives visibility and certainty to interested stakeholders. Finally, co-funded projects, call for contributions and innovative funds are the best ways to attract companies and investors and permit quick progresses in integrating mobility technologies.”

Public-private collaboration

Gianordoli feels that the integration of mobility technologies can be improved through a strong public-private partnership. This requires definitive objectives, especially between traditional mobility players, such as construction companies, infrastructure agencies and tech and digital industries. This is to cover the broad range of mobility technology within what is a wide new landscape, which involve:

  • MaaS;
  • road traffic technologies such as intelligent markings, traffic lights, and roads signs;
  • Connected vehicles and infrastructure such as sensorial captors, broadband, roadside units.

He reveals that 12% of vehicles sales are expected to be connected by 2030: “That will increase tech and digital needs in mobility, as well. Moreover, mobility technologies include new powered trains vehicles and is linked to energy sources issues. Most of the studied countries will rely on electricity to decarbonize the mobility sector but are looking for alternatives such as clean hydrogen.”

Short and wide range communication

Niels Peter Skov Andersen notes the importance of short-range communication, involving ad hoc networks between vehicles and infrastructure, which is needed for tactical information. He says there is also a need for wide area communication with cellular networks for strategic information such as up to date live maps. He also thinks there are two key areas requiring regulatory support: security and privacy. He explains: “For security of the short-range communications. The EU already have guaranteed the operation of the necessary security PKI infrastructure for the initial four years of operation. For privacy we have issues with the GDPR.”

To manage the challenges that come with the investment in the integration of mobility technologies, with a specific focus on communications, he believes that there will be a hybrid system in 5 years’ time. This will involve short-range direct communications and wide area communications but there will still be questions about the cost of staying connected and about the use of the data. For example, will users have to pay separately for connectivity and will they as a result renew it?

There will need to be significant data volumes for types of operation too. He adds that communications costs to add to being the same as hiring a driver. He feels there is a need to improve the data exchanged and there is a need to bring down the data transmission costs.

Communications essential

He concludes: “I think from five years from now, it would be impossible to buy a vehicle without communications. It would have integrated communications systems.” Data and communications are also going to be the bedrock of any connected and autonomous vehicle and mobility offering.

Gianordoli also believes that the integration of mobility technologies in that timeframe will be diverse. He also predicts that private car use will decline in favor of “a more combined and shared mobility, especially in urban areas.” MaaS will be a core part of this transition, which he believes will offer better, faster and less polluting trips for users by integrating all of the available transport modes.


By that time, he believes that mobility will have made some headway to become decarbonized through the use of electricity and renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, nuclear, and carbon capture and storage technologies – requiring government, private and public sector support. He thinks this will reduce traffic which will be controlled and regulated through the deployment and use of digital technologies. They will be particularly used for managing road transport.

To achieve this there is there will need to be some thought to future-proofing the technologies, and for them to be backwards compatible. Technologies, laws, regulations, and standards may change as time goes on. This may impact business cases as well as on automakers or private investors’ willingness, or ability, to invest in mobility technology integration. So, there is potentially a significant range and number of factors that could be missing, which need to be constantly reviewed to ensure an integrated mobility technology future.

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