When mobility is reinvented

Published on 02 November 2021

Flying cars, clean vehicles, traffic management carried out by artificial intelligence...  What will the mobility of the future look like?  Guillaume Georgin, head of department at SPIE CityNetworks in France and Rüdiger Graf, head of business development and sales at SPIE Deutschland & Zentraleuropa, discuss the solutions that will enable people to travel safely and flexibly whilst also reducing traffic congestion and pollution.

Rüdiger Graff and Guillaume Georgin Head of business development and sales at SPIE Deutschland & Zentraleuropa and Head of department at SPIE CityNetworks

What do you think the mobility of tomorrow will look like?

Guillaume Georgin: There are environmental, societal and energy-related challenges that will need to be overcome. Everyone, whether they live in cities, the suburbs or rural areas, needs to be able to get about easily. However, we also need to reduce traffic jams and find alternatives to solo-car driving. We are moving towards modes of transportation that are better for the environment. The pace of this change is unpredictable. Who would have imagined ten years ago the explosion of electric scooters and bike lanes that has occurred due to the pandemic? The other emerging trend is that of demand-driven mobility and intermodal transport. Providing services to users will become essential.

Rüdiger Graff: Sustainability and ease of access will become the most important aspects when choosing a mode of transport. Electric vehicles that run on renewable energy will replace combustion engines and they will continue to become more self-sufficient. Rather than owning a car, we will use transport flexibly thanks to the networking of all transport systems, a greater frequency of public transport and (individual or shared) coordinated offers for the last mile. Connectivity, 5G and the IoT (Internet of Things) also pave the way for the autonomous driving of tomorrow. Eventually, there will be entirely new means of trans-port such as drones or air taxis.

To what extent do these developments involve data management and artificial intelligence?

G. G.: IT, connected devices and sensors in the cities widen the possibilities, make journeys easier to organise and monitor, and enable a higher level of service for users by aggregating all the information necessary for their journeys. Artificial intelligence also makes it possible to analyse behaviours and to integrate mobility into the overall management of the smart city.

R. G.: Artificial intelligence could also be useful for offsetting large fluctuations in the power grid by using data from the batteries of hundreds of vehicles. With the vehicle-to-grid approach, vehicles absorb energy when there is a surplus in the grid and return it when there is a high demand, while ensuring that they retain a sufficient amount of power for their own needs.

How does SPIE contribute to these changes?

R. G.: One of our prime focuses is the mobility transition and the comprehensive implementation of charging infrastructures. With now more than 7,000 installed charging points in Germany, we have built up a broad range of expertise. Last year together with RheinEnergie we founded the jointly controlled entity TankE GmbH, which provides a full service offer throughout the whole of Germany, with standard charging and invoicing possibilities for electric vehicles. Our goal is to penetrate the market more deeply and establish a nationwide charging network. Furthermore, as the main installer of public lighting in Germany, we have been implementing LED systems that change their level of bright-ness when pedestrians are present. The Smart Crossing concept, which is still being developed, will allow pedestrians to cross roads more safely thanks to intelligent monitoring of the area.

G. G.: SPIE CityNetworks is drawing on its transport expertise to help develop innovative solutions, including systems designed to optimise mobility and e-mobility. The ORIOS by SPIE turnkey e-mobility solution is an ultra-reactive local network that includes aspects such as design, operation of a charging station network and user service (with SILENE, SPIE’s integrated customer service) and comprehensive maintenance. Our teams are working on many innovation, R&D and pilot projects. For instance, as members of the m2i project group (Integrated mobility for the Île-de-France area), we are currently trialling traffic prediction measures in urban areas of Val-de-Marne. Having deployed the state-of-the-art CRITER traffic control system in Grand Lyon, we are now working on a dynamic management system for a carpool lane in the area.

A day in the life of a citizen in an augmented city

Smart car parks, self-driving buses, video surveillance...
A sea change is happening in urban mobility and every day SPIE is helping to make it smarter, safer and more environmentally friendly.

Video protection

SPIE Deutschland & Zentraleuropa is currently designing a command centre at Potsdamer Platz, Berlin. The contract includes connecting all technical safety and security systems such as fire and burglar alarm systems, video technology installations, emergency escape doors, elevators and the access control system for all 16 properties on the square, plus a new video protection
system with the installation of IP-based Axis cameras (without a cable network) and an intelligent video detection solution.

Smart lighting

In an effort to improve energy efficiency and pedestrian safety and well-being, SPIE is helping the commune of Tain l’Hermitage in the Drôme department (France) to revamp its entire public lighting infrastructure. The subsidiary devised an innovative system of funding that puts solutions within the reach of all local authorities – LED equipment was leased, with the option to buy. This system
enabled the commune to achieve the set objective of cutting energy use by 72% (i.e. almost 580 MWh), in 2019.

Bus rapid transit system

SPIE assisted the deployment of two bus rapid transit (BRT) lines* – a fully electric bus in Aix-en-Provence and a “tram-bus” in Sophia Antipolis (France). Local authorities believe that these two lines represent an innovative alternative to conventional transport and meet three objectives – to promote the use of public transport, to improve the experience of travellers by providing exceptional comfort, and a more sustainable form of transport.

* A bus line that harnesses technology initially developed
for rail networks (mainly tramways)

Traffic management

In the Netherlands, SPIE has contributed to the work undertaken to widen and modernise the Tractaatweg, the second most important road in the province of Zeeland. Traffic control systems, traffic jam detection systems and LED public lighting are scheduled for installation. In Belgium, SPIE will equip some 4,500 De Lijn vehicles and 1,100 junctions with its AISY solution, a system that allows
smart traffic control of lights that are equipped with technologies able to capture traffic data, thus improving traffic flows.

Electric cars

With electric vehicles really taking off, especially in Europe, SPIE is building its expertise in charging station installation and maintenance. As part of this, the Group has been selected to install and manage the largest charging station network in Île-de-France. The objective is to have 3,000 electric car charging stations in Greater Paris by summer 2022. In Switzerland, SPIE designed and installed the first Swiss high-power charging infrastructure with 2nd life batteries of used battery electric vehicle. As a model for future stations, this setup allows to smooth load peaks, to lower energy consumption and to reduce operating costs.

Smart car park

The new customised solution co-developed by SPIE and the City of Lausanne within one of the city’s car parks will provide data such as the number of occupied spaces, the length of stay, user categories... and soon plate scanning, warnings about unusual behaviour and weather data. The objective is to improve understanding of the car park’s use, predict how usage patterns will change and determine its use throughout the year.