Ideas that travel: how to identify future transport technologies that work for everyone –

We live in an era where new technology can radically improve existing areas of the economy – increasing productivity, offering new and more inclusive and accessible services, turning data into impressive customer experiences and helping us to transition to a post fossil fuel economy. But integrating technology into long established sectors like transport networks, is notoriously hard. In this piece, I want to discuss Arup’s thinking about the emerging or future transport technologies that we anticipate will present new possibilities and challenges for the way we move people and goods around. Our clients tell us that they’re surrounded by a lot of noise about potential, about revolutionary new tech, but they want to know which ideas have a future and how to integrate them within a congested and complex world of roads, planes, trains and ships that’s been over a century in the making.

I therefore want to address two questions germane to the future of transport technology development. One, which current or emerging technologies should transport planners and network operators be focusing on in 2024, and why? We’re not going to predict winners here, but we do have a way of evaluating new ideas in transport technology. Second, how can new technology play a role in improving the quality, availability and adoption of existing public transport modes? Which technologies could act as force multipliers for the areas that our countries and cities have already invested in. Answer these two questions, and you should start to formulate an approach to new transport technology that’s grounded, outcome-based, implementable, commercially viable and a good fit for your population and customers’ needs.

In my new role as Future Transport Technology lead, I get many opportunities to discover and assess the readiness and merits of groundbreaking transport technologies. From Urban Air Mobility to Connected Autonomous Mobility, the prospects can be huge. But what is most important in my role is to ensure that whatever new technologies surface, our approach to defining, planning and developing transport solutions remains outcome-led.


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