The role of IoT in the future of mobility
10 May 2017 Smart Mobility
The modern world is a living world full of movement: people, products, information... This world is on the move, and the Internet of Things is moving with it. The solutions offered by the IoT allow us to envisage a more efficient future in many respects. We need to keep moving forward whether by land, sea or air. Mobility is an essential part of our lives. This is how the IoT gives a glimpse of what is to come in an interconnected world.
Mobility as a Service
With a steadily increasing population, transport infrastructures are limited by space and money in their ability to meet the needs. This is when the concepts and implementation of mobility appear. When the means of transport do not fit what you need, you can use some of the existing means of cooperative transport. There are also autonomous vehicles and a myriad of other possibilities. For all of these modalities, we have the option of using services especially dedicated to mobility. Such services may consist of route management applications on a map with real-time data, or car-sharing services. And there is always one characteristic that unites all these possibilities: the Internet of Things.
The advance of an ecosystem where the connection between users and objects is becoming a tangible reality is the scenario that Mobility as a Service, or MaaS, needed. Let's imagine that you have to get to the airport. By using several apps, today you can plan the most efficient route in your car. If there is any change due to traffic jams or any other problems, you will receive a real-time update warning you that you should take another route. What if you use public transport? Several services will give you a very precise estimate of how long it will take to arrive, taking into account all kinds of information: transfers, the arrival of the underground at a certain stop, and how long it would take to walk to the station.
Do you need to buy a ticket? No problem, you can do it en route with just two or three taps on your mobile. And meanwhile, you are reviewing the latest news or warning our friends about what you’re up to. And all of this is thanks to the IoT. All of the above, Mobility as a Service and all other associated utilities, would be impossible were it not for the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is the indispensable tool to make the experience real in terms of both the interconnection provided by the technological context and the development of software, not to mention interoperability.
Creating a smart world
Let's travel forward in time. You are riding in a car that holds four people. None of them is driving. The vehicle is capable of carrying its occupants autonomously and practically without supervision. Inside cars, passengers are connected to the social network, checking all kinds of information or even speaking by videoconference. The transport arrives at the estimated time and leaves them in the place they had indicated. Then it goes on to pick up other pedestrians several kilometres away. In fact, this scene drawn from science fiction is not so far from reality. Autonomous and perfectly coordinated driverless cars is the goal of companies like Chevrolet, Mercedes and Toyota, just to name a few. And this goal is not too far in the future. For example, connected cars are a reality today, and autonomous cars practically are as well.
But now imagine what a cleaner and healthier world would be like, a world where you can take a bicycle, for example, and leave it miles away. If the vehicle leaves its utility zone, it will automatically be blocked and will issue warnings in the case of an attempted theft. Needless to say, public transport will be much more fluid, performing tasks automatically such as buying tickets and sending arrival notices. This entire ecosystem is typical of a smart city. Smart cities are more self-sufficient, ecological and above all efficient. To achieve this "smart" vision, cities have to adapt their means of transport. These are the "arteries" of a being that evolves at its own pace. Again, as you see, the Internet of Things is at the heart of this picture, connecting everything and making it possible.
But another undoubtedly essential issue in the future of mobility is collaborative transport and all its variations. While services like Uber, Cabify and Lyft offer a new version of traditional taxi services, different car-sharing options, some of them themed, give users new experiences. The aim is always the same: to improve the efficiency of transport. In this way, you save money and reduce pollution and traffic jams. In the case of private taxis, these aspects are not as noticeable as lowering an excessively expensive personal means of transport by offering a different experience. But again, all these issues are possible thanks to the Internet of Things, which puts a ubiquitous connection, applications with which to manage the service, and an active community at our service twenty-four hours a day.
In addition, an incredible amount of information emerges from cooperative transport. With the data obtained from the use of these services we can find usage patterns, details on how the transports operate, and user preferences. This information is invaluable to companies, which can use it to improve the efficiency of what they offer. Data can also be processed and stored to improve the overall picture of transport. Thanks to state-of-the-art analyses performed within the context of the Internet of Things, the resulting information will undoubtedly help to fulfil the dream of a smarter, more efficient and, of course, connected world.