Future Connectivity in UK's Transport Vision 2050

(click on the image to enlarge)

This week Innovate UK announced the launch of its UK Transport Vision 2050. The vision is an in-depth study that sets out what the UK transport system may look like in 2050 and outlines the likely steps along the way to achieving this. The intention is to gather UK government and industry around a single vision and inform how to invest in the future of transport as an interconnected system that delivers for people and places.

The report highlights six areas to achieve the vision:

  • Travel and transport demand
  • Connectivity
  • Energy vectors
  • Autonomy
  • Business models
  • Infrastructure.

Quoting the connectivity part from the report:

Improved communications and connectivity will create opportunities for greater efficiency, new services for travellers and new business products and services.

Connecting transport systems and vehicles through cellular and satellite communications technology will lead to significant efficiency gains and new services for both travellers and freight. Increasing data and digital connectivity will enable new business models and services and unlock significant new economic and social value. Secure connectivity will also be critical to the operation of transport as a national infrastructure.

We expect this to be enabled by widespread 4G connectivity by 2025 and 5G by 2030. Widespread 7G by 2050 will connect all road vehicles with each other and enable a sophisticated central traffic management system. Road vehicles will offer increasing levels of customer experience with 60% of new vehicles offering personalisation for all occupants (McKinsey Connected Car Customer Expereince level 3) by 2030, and 75% having intelligent decision making by 2050. Road vehicles will be capable of cooperating with other nearby vehicles to support traffic flow and safety by 2050.

This improved connectivity will be vital for real-time data gathering. It will provide key information for the public sector, industry, travellers and maintenance. For example, real-time data will improve planning of road usage and lead to efficiencies, cost savings and emissions reductions. Developments in connectivity will enable planning simulations using artificial intelligence and machine learning and lead to more efficient traffic management systems. Connectivity and data gathering will underpin the creation of digital twins – real-time digital counterparts of physical objects – that will improve travel planning and routing.

People using active forms of travel, such as cycling and walking, will make more trips in this way as they feel safer, experience better air quality and have more confidence in a connected and informed journey.

It will be normal rather than a novelty for people to use digital channels to plan, book and pay for many different types of mobility services (mobility as a service) as systems become more connected and reliable. The sharing economy will also be embraced as we move from personal vehicle ownership to usership.

Freight movement will be optimised at ports and depots to ensure maximum efficiency in time, miles travelled and of space.

The advanced train protection system, the European Train Control System (ETCS) level 2, will be rolled out on all UK trains by 2040 and 95% of UK mainline rail by 2050.

Autonomous unmanned air traffic management (UTM) has been demonstrated and could be adopted commercially in the 2020s. This will be fully integrated into current air traffic, including commercial flight, by 2050.

All recharging and refuelling systems and vehicles will be fully internet connected by 2030 to maximise energy management for motorists, vehicles and energy networks.

Some of the technologies mentioned in the table in the image on the top are detailed in the links below.

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