Megatrends and How to Survive Them #8 Mobility

Published by Patricia Lustig on

Megatrends and How to Survive Them is the title of our book published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing and available on Amazon.

This is one of a series of blogs based on the work we have done for the book. We chose Mobility as a topic for discussion because people have always travelled over land and sea, later through the air and into space. Mobility of people and freight looks likely to continue to increase though the next decades, with major growth in air travel and passenger vehicles in Asia. Freight and goods transport may increase less due to localised manufacturing and changes in supply chains and trade wars.

The focus of this blog is automated (driverless) vehicles.

On land, freight traffic and trains will adopt autonomous vehicles before their wide use in passenger cars, and there are already many systems in operation. Some examples are:

  • In Singapore, there is a shortage of truck drivers and an ongoing requirement to transport containers between ports. This is being tackled with “platoons” of four trucks with a single shared driver, on public roads, in a three-year pilot from 2017. The approach is designed to build up public trust.
  • From Perth, engineers manage autonomous trucks and trains connected with robotic drilling systems across Western Australia under the Rio Tinto Mine of the Future programme.
  • The first fully automated driverless mass-transit rail network is the Port Island Line in Kobe, Japan. The second in the world (and the first such driverless system in Europe) is the Lille Metro in northern France. The Barcelona Metro line 9 and Copenhagen Metro use trains capable of operating automatically at all times, including door closing, obstacle detection and emergency situations.

Air traffic globally is expected to increase at a rate which will depend on regulations and trade protectionism. The increase will be mostly in Asia, with internal traffic in China due to quadruple and in India to increase five-fold.

Not counted in the air traffic data is traffic from drones which are currently in use for instance in:

  • Agriculture and land management, to look for signs of disease, examine crops or apply chemicals.
  • Law and order – monitoring, and search and rescue after incidents.
  • Smuggling drugs across borders.
  • Atmospheric monitoring to improve weather forecasts.
  • Tracking wildlife and combating poachers.
  • Taking wedding photos from the air!
  • Delivery of parcels by Amazonand others.

So, for leaders, the questions to ask themselves and their organisations could include:

  • How will autonomous vehicles affect your supply chain? If the delivery of supplies to your premises is by autonomous vehicles, how will your goods inward people handle problems?
  • How can you keep contact and build the relationship with your customers if delivery to them is via automated vehicles?

We live in exciting times!

Authors: Patricia Lustig,  MD LASA Insight and Gill Ringland, Director, Ethical Reading.


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