A world of change

Explore • Pulse #1 • 5 min
By Robert Jack

If we know one thing about the future of mobility it is that we can expect to see enormous changes in the coming decade. Roads that generate solar power, flying taxis, 1,000 km/h travel over land and robot railway staff are among the innovations on the horizon.


Driverless cars are seen as the future, but should we be talking more about driverless trains? In a world of driverless cars, mass transit will remain essential in order to keep the arteries of large cities flowing freely. To do so, driverless metro systems will play a prominent role, as it is proven technology that can help deliver increased frequencies, higher speeds and 24/7 services. Consulting firm Wavestone recently carried out a study, which reviews 25 automatic metro lines out of the 40 lines listed in the world. It shows that France is the country with the greatest mileage of driverless metros (with 120 km of automated lines) and that Keolis operates the greatest line mileage worldwide (with 104 km of lines operated).

Décollage immédiat les taxis volants de Dubaï


What if your taxi could take off and fly over the crowded streets below? It sounds like science fiction, but a futuristic fleet of flying taxis could start carrying passengers in Dubai later this year. The city’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) has signed an agreement with German company Volocopter to provide aircraft for a test phase of its innovative ‘Autonomous Air Taxi’ (AAT) project. Volocopter’s drones are capable of carrying two people at speeds of up to 100 km/h. The electric motors of its 18 rotors are powered by nine independent batteries, providing back-up in the event of rotor or battery failure. According to HE Mattar Al Tayer, RTA’s Director-General and Chairman, AAT echoes Dubai’s plans to transform a quarter of passenger journeys in Dubai into autonomous transport by 2030. If we know one thing about the future of mobility it is that we can expect to see enormous changes in the coming decade. Roads that generate solar power, flying taxis, 1,000 km/h travel over land and robot railway staff are among the innovations on the horizon.


WhereIsMyTransport, a start-up based in London and Cape Town, is helping 20 cities in 10 countries across Africa and the Middle East to harvest ‘Big Data’. It is working with informal public transport, or paratransit, as well as official public transport operators, to take the mystery out of travel information. WhereIsMyTransport has calculated that transport uncertainty in South Africa alone has an annual economic cost of USD 104 billion. It recently won the International Transport Forum’s 2017, Promising Transport Innovation Award.

Taxi ! La réponse de l’afrique à uber


Francophone Africa is a part of the world not yet conquered by Uber, and local entrepreneurs are coming up with their own taxi-hailing apps. Launched in January 2016 by a Congolese entrepreneur, Africab is now present in three African cities: Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Cotonou (Benin) and Lomé (Togo). It uses the app developed by London-based Addisson Lee. Taxijet is also present in Abidjan, and has ambitious rollout plans. Launched in June 2016 by three Ivorian entrepreneurs, it reportedly receives around 100 bookings a day.


Riding a bicycle became more environmentally friendly in the Dutch town of Krommenie in 2014 following the opening of the world’s first cycle path made from solar panels. The SolaRoad consists of 72 metres of solar cells, embedded in concrete and protected by a one centimetre thick layer of transparent, skid-resistant tempered safety glass. It is reported to be producing almost 10,000 kWh of electricity per year, enough to power two households. This innovative €3.5 million project is a public-private partnership between the Dutch province of Noord-Holland and three engineering firms.

There are 35,000 km of segregated cycle-tracks in the Netherlands. If they could all be converted to SolaRoad and produce as much solar energy as the Krommenie trial it would provide enough power for an industrialised city of almost half a million people.

L’Hyperloop va bon train… Paris-Amsterdam en 45 minutes


Travelling between Paris and Amsterdam takes around three and a half hours on the Thalys high-speed train, which travels at speeds of up to 300 km/h. But the promoters of a completely new land-based mode of transport have an ambitious plan to slash this journey to just 45 minutes. This innovation, named Hyperloop, comprises a sealed tube through which a pod may travel free of air resistance or friction at speeds of more than 1,000 km/h. A Dutch start-up unveiled its own 30 metre-long test facility this June in Delft, backed by the Delft University of Technology, Dutch railway company NS and multinational construction firm BAM. It aims to open its commercial Paris-Amsterdam route by 2021.


How will the digital revolution shape the future of mobility, and how can we ensure that the future of mobility is tailored to the needs of smart cities ? To help answer these questions, Keolis has teamed up with Netexplo, an independent observatory that studies the impact of digital technology, to produce a World Mobility Report. This research included an ‘International Digital Mobility Observatory’ in 13 smart cities across five continents. It found that, regardless of the location, be it Stockholm or Santiago, Hong Kong or Hyderabad, three universal objectives emerge for passengers :

• The ability to receive answers in real time while on the move, including an alternative solution in the event of disruption.
• Personalised information tailored to the passenger’s unique current and ongoing needs.
• Step-by-step coaching through every stage of a journey, thanks to a digital pocket guide providing door-to-door guidance.

To address these expectations, Keolis has identified three pillars for the passenger experience of tomorrow.

Et ils savent même danser - robots à tout faire


A humanoid robot was trialled in three stations by the French railway company SNCF in 2016. Could this soon become a familiar sight for travellers?
The robot, Pepper, was programmed to answer the kind of questions that people routinely ask railway staff, such as information about fares and departure times, and surrounding facilities. The answers are displayed on a screen on Pepper’s torso. Designed in France by a Japanese-owned company, Pepper is the first humanoid robot to use artifical intelligence to recognise basic human emotions and adapt its behaviour to the mood of the person it is conversing with. Standing 1.4 metres tall, Pepper comes loaded with advanced speech recognition and is able to communicate in 20 languages. It can even dance and play games. Pepper has already been deployed at airports – Glasgow (Scotland), Oakland (California), and Songshan and Taoyuan (China). Other social and baggage-carrying robots have also been in action at airports, including Geneva (Switzerland), Schiphol (The Netherlands) and San Jose (California).


A MaaS revolution?

Mobility as a Service is a customer-centric approach to mobility based on the aggregation of transport services within a single interface, most of the time a mobile app. By offering a combination of different real-time on-demand modes on a designated trip, it represents apromising solution for reducing single-occupancy car usage. But can it really revolutionise the way we design, think and use transport? To find out, Pulse caught up with Piia Karjalainen, Senior Manager, MaaS Alliance.

Pulse #4 5 min
Cybermenaces : pour que les transports contre-attaquent

Making sure cyberthreats don’t derail public transport

One weekend in November 2016, riders of San Francisco’s Muni light rail transit system got an early holiday treat. Following a ransomware attack on the computerised fare system, the Muni, which also runs buses and the city’s famed cable cars, decided to turn off the payment machines and open the gates, allowing Metro passengers to ride for free. It lasted two days, while the authorities sought to figure out who had hacked the computer system, reportedly demanding 100 Bitcoin. Muni decided not to pay up, and by Monday they had managed to get the system back to normal. While the cybercrime disrupted Muni’s computer operations, it could have been worse. And that left experts wondering how transit authorities would respond to a much more severe attack from cyberterrorists intent on causing real damage.

Pulse #3 7 min