Innovation, Knowledge

ITS-World Congress 2015 – upcoming trends and overview on the ITS/IMS market

Interview with Peter Ummenhofer, Vice President Business Unit ITS at Kapsch TafficCom

Last year the ITS World Congress was very much influenced by the topic of networked traffic. This year the main topic is the intelligent mobility; what recent deployments/trends do you expect for the ITS WC 2015?

The ITS (Intelligent Transportation System) business is a fast growing market with a lot of exciting developments and many players working on a wide variety of solutions. I expect virtualization to be a main trend this year and in the future. The vehicles will become driving traffic data probes and will – step by step – replace, or at least complete, the conventional ITS infrastructure. 

In which direction do you think will the virtualization of ITS will influence the ITS/Intelligent Mobility Solutions IMS market?

There is evidence of a couple of interesting developments such as Traffic Management Centers cooperating more with private mobility service providers to make use of their traffic data analytics capabilities. In this context big data will play a major role in transportation decisions as well as planning parking, route planning or intermodal transportation.

On their way to becoming “smart” and handling challenges like growing traffic and population numbers, (as well as reaching tougher environmental goals), cities will implement integrated planning, monitoring and decision making tools based on IoT (Internet of Things) technology such as connected vehicles, automated driving and smartphones.

Finally, Mobility as a Service (MaaS) will replace the traditional transportation business and require new business models, organizational rethinking and will pose challenges on scalability and deployment. In big cities car-sharing is already becoming increasingly popular and Mobility as a Service will help to strengthen this trend even further and ultimately pave the way to shared transportation: from car ownership to shared use of transport means.

Many car makers in Europe and the US deal with V2X applications and autonomous driving. Support from a rather unexpected direction comes from technology companies such as Google and Apple. How do you assess the role of these companies – will we see an iCar or a NexusAutomotive soon?

These companies are very active in the market and are investing heavily in R&D and extensive collaborations with car makers. For example, German OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) invested in the map company Nokia/HERE to stay independent from the map services of the big technology giants Google and Apple. However, due to the omnipresent smartphone and connectivity options provided by Google and Apple the map services of these companies will find their way into the vehicles. 

Although Google is promoting the autonomous car heavily, it is a data company at its core. Its long term interest is probably not so much in the car but rather in the data the car is delivering. At the moment it is hard to say what Apple’s strategy is. One possible way for Apple could be to concentrate on the user-centered part of autonomous driving and to come up with a fully integrated cockpit solution. 

If you take a look into the crystal ball – when do you think autonomous driving will be as normal as driving a car today? Will ITS/IMS applications change the world profoundly?

We are well on the way to connected and semi-autonomous driving. Given the high complexity of traffic, different transport modes and the role of hardly controllable traffic participants like pedestrians and bicycles – fully automated driving in urban areas may become reality in about 20 years. In better controllable environments like on highways there is more potential to achieve a high degree of autonomy in a shorter timeframe – perhaps even 5 to 10 years.

The world will definitely be changed with the continuous evolvement of car connectivity, electric vehicles, IoT and big data analytics. Not only individual traffic, but also logistics and the transport of goods will be affected. These technologies are the enablers of new transport means, services and strategies for the population, for cities and for governments. 

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