Digitalization -the integration digital online systems - has revolutionized the transport sector over the past decade. From ride sharing apps, to new and more efficient mobility services, electric vehicles and smart transportation. There’s no doubt that digital solutions can enhance accessibility in the mobility sector. Digitalization can reduce congestion, support the integration of smart charging and contribute to sustainability by promoting cleaner and more efficient modes of transportation. This blog dives into how digital infrastructure can future-proof mobility in the EU, and around the world.
Benefits and Challenges of Digitalization in Transport
Roads, railways, subways and virtually any public transport network can be improved with digitalized, connected and automated mobility (CAM).
Yet CAM and smart transport systems need significant investments of capital, labour and digital and charging infrastructure to reach their full potential. Unlike internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, EVs generate vast quantities of data. As more EVs hit the road, this data will grow exponentially and must be captured and and processed to support the roll out of fully digitalized transport systems.
This is a huge task and to be successful, there are big technological hurdles to overcome. These include:
• The capacity for mass cloud computing
• 5G connectivity for real time data processing and rapid, secure data transfer
• The integration of AI to quickly analyze complex data
• Critical minerals required for chips for smart vehicles
• Materials and metals for new operating systems
Some countries and regions, including the European Union are racing ahead with their plans for digitalized mobility, and have established frameworks to support smart, sustainable mobility. The EU has recognized the value that smart electric mobility offers in terms of societal benefits and environmental sustainability.
With proper oversight and implementation, digitalization can support Mobility as a Service (MaaS) by making it possible to digitally link and access a number of transport options, enable frictionless travel across them, and save time and costs for travelers and transport operators.
Exciting developments in artificial intelligence also hold promise for the future of smart transport systems. AI can improve the efficiency of EVs, and optimize automatic charging times to save time and money. Bi-directional EV charging can also build greater flexibility into the grid, making it possible to use battery electric vehicles as mobile units that can provide power to the grid when needed, while integrating more renewable energy sources. Both of these benefits are within reach, but rely also on real-time data sharing and mass data transfer.
This digital data is central to enable EV owners and operators to be able to connect, roam and charge in a secure, easy and flexible way. This in turn will make the overall EV ownership and driving experience more convenient, and lead to greater adoption of electric transport.
Ensuring security and privacy
It’s clear data is the foundation of a digitalized transport system. Wherever mass amounts of data is processed, there are always risks around data protection, security and privacy - and eMobility is no different. Data storage, regulation, transfer and ownership are all elements of the new network of digitalized eMobility that must be supported by robust policies and frameworks.
Adopting open protocols to support seamless communication between EVs, chargepoint operators (CPOs) and eMobility service providers is vital for the growth of smart mobility. It will require the entire transport ecosystem to cooperate and collaborate.
As such, Heliox is working with a network of partners on a groundbreaking project, Digital Infrastructure for Future-Proof Mobility (DITM) which addresses some of these challenges head on. Along with the project partners we are developing a cutting-edge system architecture for digital infrastructure in the Netherlands. The scope of the project includes work on the critical core technologies associated with localization, traffic services, digital maps, and charging infrastructure.
The DITM will form the basis for greater levels of autonomous driving, as well as a cyber-secure and reliable interconnections for EVs and the energy infrastructure they interact with -including charge points and traffic services. This will form part of a wider raft of projects that will inform the future policy considerations relating to digitalization of mobility.
Both the Netherlands and the EU commission have committed to fostering a secure digital mobility ecosystem that serves society, citizens and businesses and implementing more sustainable transport systems.
Key technologies to boost the digitalization of transport
Two such examples are Virtual Power Plants (VPP) and Smart EV Charging Software. VPPs are set to play a greater role in balancing energy grids as more households and transport operators become digitalized.
A VPP is an aggregation of individual, decentralized energy generating assets that can be any combination of wind, or solar and are controllable - like electric vehicles - with decentralized battery energy storage. When virtually combined, these assets create a single VPP that can feed into the grid and participate in energy markets. The key benefit of VPPs for eBus and eTruck fleet operators is that they can connect and combine their assets, This means they become both energy consumers, and energy producers. With the emergence of bidirectional EV charging technology, energy can flow both to and from the EV battery systems and be discharged back to the grid. This opens up the possibility of a more secure grid and cash savings for EV fleet operators.
As we head towards 2035, when sales of new ICE vehicles will cease, there are likely to be millions more EVs on the road around the world, all generating masses of data. How this digital data is handled, stored and integrated into wider smart eMobility networks will be critical to the rollout of EVs and if successful will speed-up eMobility for all.