The future of travel

Over the last few years, it’s been clear that the transport industry has been in a state of change. More journeys are taking place than ever before, while digital continues to knock on the door with large amounts of investments being fed into intelligent streets and digital railways. On top of all this, we are living in an information era whereby consumers are demanding the best experience possible when they interact with organisations, whether that is a retail store or their bank – or indeed their train operator.

As we become more immersed in today’s digital-first era, we can expect travel to become even more intelligent and mobile. In the near future, transport will no longer be a series of separate car and train journey’s but instead revolve around an intelligent system driven by a more user-centred travel experience.   

This year we’ve seen further development around connected cars, the growing use of smart ticketing on smart phones and also continued investment towards high speed rail. It’s been a busy year for the transport sector. But what is next?  Here are my thoughts on what we can expect next year. 

Developments will accelerate quickly in autonomous vehicles

The UK’s existing driverless car trials already sit alongside other high profile prototypes across the world. However, the progress of connected and autonomous vehicle technology is no longer constrained by the capacity of our computers or our data networks, and we expect to see rapid development toward increasingly sophisticated trials and deployment. Next year we will see driverless vehicles on the road and a number of high-profile trials of techniques such as platooning, where convoys of driverless vehicles follow each other to reduce congestion. The UK will be a focus of attention for testing these novel technologies for many manufacturers. 

Security will increase in emphasis for all operators 

Whether it’s tighter regulation for drones flying close to airports, physical measures to stop theft from trackside, or cyber security to prevent high-profile hacks on urban transport systems, the trend toward increasing security of the transport system is unlikely to diminish. Technology has an important role to play, often in preventing hitherto unseen threats, for example mandatory geo-fencing to stop drones flying over prisons and other classified areas. We’re likely to see other innovative solutions across the globe to ensure national safety of citizens. 

We’ll start to see technology being used to help health and well-being for staff and passengers

As our lives become busier, managing a good work life balance is more important than ever before. Technology that goes the extra mile for passengers will emerge this year. Train companies will start next year, for example, to inform pregnant women and elderly people whether there are seats on the tube before it even arrives via smart devices – in actual fact, smart wayfinding will be introduced to benefit all passengers. This will is part of a larger trend toward more intelligent mobility, where the passenger experience becomes much more person-centric through your mobile devices. New technology will also become more commonplace in maintaining the safety of an increasingly busy network, such as more sophisticated methods for fatigue monitoring sensors on trains and in cars. 

Regional transport will pick up pace  

After several years of major national projects grabbing the headlines, we expect an increased emphasis on devolution to be echoed throughout transport. Those regions that demonstrate innovation, joined-up thinking between public and private sectors and pro-activity will benefit. We’re watching developments across Transport for the North as a benchmark for new approaches, transforming how citizens travel around the North. 

During 2017, transport will move a step closer to becoming truly intelligent. The future transport network is more ‘passenger centric’ than ever before and will completely transform the way we travel, with digital technology at the heart of its success. 

Russell Goodenough, Client Managing Director of Transport in UK & Ireland at Fujitsu 

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