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There’s a lot of potential for innovation in the mobility industry.

We have already seen Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) startups disrupt this space with ride-hailing services as well as with Micro Mobility solutions such as electronic scooters.

But the progress has been slowed down significantly by the tensions between these startups and the city governments.

And the stakes are only getting higher. We are closer than ever to the mobility holy grail, autonomous vehicles (which should not be a surprise given the more than $112 billion in investment since 2010).

That’s why further innovation is dependent on the collaboration between mobility providers, academics, and governments.

 

  • Mobility providers need to take into account not only the viability of a technology, but also how it will fit into the existing transport ecosystem and how it will affect society as a whole. They also need to abide by the laws and respect government authority.
  • Academics need to use their research skills to determine the safety of mobility innovations and evaluate possible unintended consequences that could be brought about by them. A serious ethical discussion is needed about these endeavours which seems like a task for philosophers who specialize in moral philosophy.
  • Governments need to maintain the delicate balance between ensuring public safety and encouraging innovation. Laws should be introduced to create infrastructure and fund research with that aim in mind. Governments also need to address the negative impact that mobility innovations might have on individual citizens (e.g. job loss due to automation).

 

An area where such collaboration is necessary is in the development of autonomous vehicles. Self-driving cars could completely revolutionize transportation, but they also present a tremendous public safety risk.

There’s also the question of how we as a society should handle the massive loss of jobs that would be an inevitable consequence of this innovation.

It’s clear that making self-driving cars a reality will require an unprecedented cooperation between businesses, academics, and governments.

The same can be said about any breakthrough in the mobility industry. We need to work together if we want to find solutions to our current transportation challenges.

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