Plastic pollution in the oceans, bushfires in Australia and the recent floods in the UK are just some examples of events that are propelling the protection of the environment and sustainability further into the global consciousness. Transport is a major source of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, as well as air pollution that is killing millions every year.
You can bet then, that innovations in smart sustainable transport will receive their biggest focus yet this year.
So, which smart sustainable transport areas could see a surge in the 2020s?
Micro e-mobility, such as electric scooters and bikes, has been growing steadily across many cities across the world in the last few years. As battery technology continues to improve, with longer-lasting charge and more reliability, micro e-mobility is likely to grow more rapidly in 2020. This could help to shift more people away from using their gas-guzzling cars, reducing emissions, as well as alleviating congestion.
We have also seen a new type of micro e-mobility emerge. Segway, famous for their self-balancing transport product, which is ridden in an upright position, has revealed a futuristic mobility chair. The single-person chair is also battery powered and uses a collection of sensors and processors for its self-balancing technology. Trials of the new product will begin in 2020.
Sharing freight assets
Another thing to look out for in 2020, relates to road freight. Many of the vehicles you see on the roads today are transporting goods. Whether it’s commercial vans delivering packages to people’s doors or Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) on motorways, the pollution emitted is significant. With the growth of ecommerce and online shopping, the situation is set to only get worse.
One of the biggest challenges facing the road freight industry is the low utilisation rate of their vehicles. Many vans and HGVs are in fact driving around half-full or worse. This means that there are more vehicles on the road, polluting the environment than there needs to be.
One solution to this problem, set for further research this year, is greater collaboration across different delivery companies. By providing real-time visibility, through the Internet of Things (IoT), of spare capacity space in vehicles, other companies could fill it up. Sharing freight assets could reduce the number of commercial vehicles on the road, benefiting the environment and economy as a whole.