Transportation is one of the basic human needs. To stay connected to our jobs, education and leisure activities, we are in need of mobility and access to transport. A well-connected and integrated transportation system within cities and across borders defines the economic success of the urban areas and contributes to their livability and vitality.
Year after year, due to a number of factors including population growth, the demand for transport increases. More and more vehicles and services are being produced to satisfy this demand. Although some countries provide more opportunities for an active and sustainable commute like bicycles or electric vehicles, the majority of modes of transport that help us move around are fossil-fuel dependent.
Sadly, transportation is one of the leading contributors to global greenhouse emissions, noise and poor air quality in urban areas. Every day, thousands of vehicles are polluting the environment and are affecting the health and the quality of life of citizens.
Transportation is one of the leading contributors to global greenhouse emissions, noise & poor air quality
The impact is especially drastic when it comes to airplanes. Over the last 25 years, following the growth in air traffic, the environmental impact of the European aviation activities has greatly increased. According to one case study, an ecological footprint of a single person taking a long-haul flight may cause as much pollution as a motorist does in two months.
Even though existing and rising issues with transportation are not easy to fix, we have all the power to make the change. Government initiatives, non-profit organizations, corporations, startups, and innovators have realized the environmental impact and health issues caused by the increased usage of transport. Customers are expecting organizations to address the mobility problem too, and more than 47% of millennials are eager to see smart mobility in the near future.
Startups in Smart Mobility: Coavmi case study
Some of the hottest tech trends in mobility are IoT (Internet of Things), V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle), autonomous vehicle technology, smart parking, and EVs (electric vehicles). On-demand ride services and transport sharing have also taken a firm stand and have shown the potential of contributing to a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly way of commuting.
The arrival of ride-sharing startups like Zipcar, BlaBlaCar, and car2go, as well as on-demand ride services like Uber and Lyft, only prove the fact that we are moving towards a future where ownership is not as appealing as before. In fact, Millennials are reluctant to buy new items and prefer to have access to services rather than buying and owning new items including vehicles.
Youssef Oubihi, CEO of Coavmi from our Smart City & Living 2017 class, agrees that people prefer to use products as a service rather than owning them. Together with his team, he developed a flight-sharing platform to connect private pilots with passengers willing to share the same flight and its costs.
“The way we travel today is inefficient and expensive. When you need to fly from one small town to another, you can’t take a direct flight but instead, have to make several stops in bigger cities. For flights under 2000 km, small airplanes can do a much better job than big aircrafts by going directly from a small town to another. Our mission is to shift from indirect flights to only direct flights that are efficient and less expensive.”
The environmental impact caused by planes is also something Coavmi wants to solve.
“Most of the air pollution is caused by jet planes. While jet planes fit in a lot of travelers, private planes cause much less ecological impact per passenger. With Coavmi, we want to reduce the CO2 impact per passenger by filling up the empty seats in private planes.”
While statistics show that planes may cause much bigger environmental impact than other modes of transport, the majority of new solutions are focused on the land transportation. Trends like automated self-driving, parking solutions, navigation, and even on-demand and sharing are mostly used specifically in land transportation.
Youssef says that private aviation industry is so far unknown to many people who don’t think of it as a possible solution for traveling or leisure flying.
“As soon as the society realizes the potential of the private aviation industry, there will be more discussions on how we can improve this way of transportation and move towards smarter mobility. In the next 10 years, the market for planes and cars will convert. We will have something that we may call flying cars or airplanes that can take off vertically. The modern technology has all the potential to make that happen.”