Mobility was on display at the CeBIT technology Expo in Hannover with new vehicles, mapping solutions and apps helping cities accommodate the transport and way-finding needs of visitors and residents.
Swiss Post brought two of its “SmartShuttles” to Hanover, to ferry trade show visitors around the halls, grabbing public attention for its automated transport experiment.
In summer of 2016, Swiss Post launched a pilot test of the two self-driving vehicles as supplementary public transport in downtown Sion in the Swiss canton of Valais.
The buses follow a fixed circuit of 1,500 meters, with several stops along the way. A screen at one stop shows the location of both vehicles in real time for anyone waiting to catch the next bus. Travellers can also find the current location of a shuttle with an app.
Since the start of the “SmartShuttle” trials more 14,000 passengers have travelled more than 2,500 kilometres on the service. The shuttle trials will continue until October 2017.
Swiss Post’s shuttles are designed and manufactured by Navya, France.
These 100% electric Navya mini-buses can seat up to 11 passengers and travel at top speeds of 20 km per hour. They navigate safely using a combination of cameras and sensors to recognize and avoid obstacles and persons in their path.
Navya has also previously demonstrated the self-driving minibus as an airport terminal transport solution during the Passenger Terminal Expo.
The company conducted on-site demonstrations at Heathrow Airport and at Christchurch International Airport this January.
During the trial in New Zealand, transport minister, Simon Bridges, said:
"Our supportive regulation around testing autonomous vehicles, enabling new technology to be tested while protecting public safety, has helped make this trial possible. Autonomous vehicles are an important part of the future of transport and offer potential safety, efficiency and environmental benefits."
NAVYA vice president of sales Henri Coron says of the use of autonomous vehicles at airports:
"Autonomous technology will certainly be a part of the airports of the future. Autonomous vehicles will allow airports to deal with certain flow issues currently experienced and to thus improve the passenger’s airport experience."
NavVis presented its M3 Indoor Mapping Trolley which can navigate building interiors to produce interactive digital maps.
NavVis says its mapping technology is accurate within centimetres, and can be used to produce “digital twins” of the buildings.
These are in quality similar to the indoor maps produced with Google StreetView, but can provide more detailed metadata.
For example, a NavVis indoor map of a museum could give remote visitors a comprehensive guided tour, with full information on the exhibits, a peek at the menus served at cafés and cafeterias, and interactive online shopping for souvenirs.
Dr. Felix Reinshagen CEO and founder of NavVis, explains the untapped market potential of indoor mapping:
"Just consider the impact of global positioning satellites (GPS) and digital maps. Together these two technologies have fundamentally transformed the world outside our doorstep.
Transport, logistics, agriculture, ride hailing, food delivery, defense, natural resource extraction—every outdoor industrial process is now powered by GPS and digital maps.
"Compare that to the indoors—where 90% of our GDP is created— and you will find a digital wasteland. The vast majority of malls, factories, offices, hospitals, airports, train stations and universities remain untouched by the digital revolution."
Way-finding enhanced by digital indoor mapping is big business. Companies are finding ways to use this technology to entice customers to visit, and help visitors get the most of their experience on-site, using a mix of technologies from camera mapping to beacon and Wi-Fi mapping, to the Earth’s gravitational field.
Google Indoor Maps have produced enhanced way-finding at airports. LocusLabs has helped Delta and United enhance their apps with terminal way-finding features.
In 2014, Chinese search engine Baidu invested $10 million in IndoorAtlas which uses the geomagnetic field to pinpoint the exact location inside a building with an accuracy of one to two metres.
While there are a number of solutions in this space, there is still plenty more space left to map.
Mobility as a service
MotionTag digital mobility solutions presented their seamless pay-as-you-go ticketing app ‘TicketEasy’ at CeBIT, which focuses on making multi-modal transport options convenient.
The company also has a mobility analytics solution which helps transport companies evaluate passenger flow and fine-tune their services.
Mobility as a service has become a strong theme in travel helping maximize existing public transport infrastructure, offering the same order-by-app convenience as shared-ride services.
Munich Airport made mobility an important function of its new “Passngr app”.
Anita Neudeck, senior manager, innovation and partnering for Munich Airport explains the trend as follows:
"Transportation has become intermodal. Seventy percent of Millennials are using multiple ways of getting around cities and the suburbs. People don’t want to think about what transport to use. They just care about the destination and they care about time and costs."
Companies like Busbud, Clickbus, Distribusion and Wanderu have blazed trails in digital multimodal transport distribution. But there are still many opportunities left to mend seams from front door to gate to port and back again.