The transportation and logistics industries are undergoing sweeping change. Electric vehicle and lithium battery costs are falling quickly, autonomy software is improving at a rapid pace, and ride-sharing platforms are leading customers to question the need to own their own car.
These three trends – electrification, autonomy, and access-over-ownership – are reshaping every part of the industry and moving the sector into a new era of integrated mobility. The resulting vision is one of a seamless transit experience incorporating multimodal, public and private transport.
As the transport value chain expands to become the mobility value ecosystem, the old way of doing business just doesn’t cut the mustard.
Previously, airlines only competed with airlines, car makers with car makers, and Apple just made mobile devices and laptops. Electric vehicles, automation technologies, and alternative mobility solutions like ride-hailing are forcing automotive manufacturers (OEMs) and transportation providers to rethink their business models.
After being in stasis for decades, the market is now on the move as players jockey for position and a new, integrated mobility value ecosystem emerges, bringing all modes of public, private and commercial transport together.
This flux is forcing collaboration and partnerships that would have been unimaginable five years ago.
The era of open, integrated mobility
A new era of ‘open integrated mobility’ is upon us: movement is decentralised, multimodal, automated, and aspires to be increasingly sustainable. It goes beyond the traditional automotive industry and brings together bikes, trains, planes, ships and new and emerging transport types like drones and hyperloop.
As the personal transportation market moves toward access rather than ownership, the same assets are being used for commercial and consumer purposes, blurring the lines between logistics, public transit, and private transport.
Uber has already experimented with grocery deliveries, Mobike and Ofo dominate bike-sharing in China, and Citymapper, a UK mapping startup, is running a bus service in London.
Traditional market boundaries have blurred. There are no separate consumer, public or logistics markets. There is a single integrated mobility market; yet no single company can deliver transport services without widespread collaboration and interoperability between and across all players.[Field]
Data is the core asset
Data created and captured by software (operating systems in autonomous vehicles, in-transit applications for entertainment, and multimodal mobility consumer applications) and the internet of things (sensors such as gyroscopes, LIDARs, cameras, radars, accelerometers, and proximity sensors) is becoming the most important resource, as it enables automation and connectivity.
An example is the FOAM Proof of Location protocol, which offers secure location services independent of external centralised sources such as GPS through time synchronisation.
Once data is captured, it gets authenticated, validated and secured using decentralised infrastructure like distributed ledgers and self-sovereign identity, such as Sovrin. Their data transport layer defines how data moves across databases, networks, and systems and is important for the facilitation of data and value interoperability between participants.
Another example, Haja networks, is building a trustless peer-to-peer database to support a global data layer.
Marketplaces for artificial intelligence, personal, IoT data and digital assets allow participants to trade, exchange and monetise their data in order to be processed, analysed and provide automation via smart contracts and machine learning.
Ocean protocol enables such an ecosystem for sharing data and associated services and Fetch.AI facilitates autonomous economic agents that can exchange data and insights.
However, are incumbents with vast amounts of data expected to hold on to it or share? Large incumbents, such as Waymo, Apple, Amazon, are unlikely to be willing to share their data, but new participants will benefit from data exchange and value interoperability to an extent where big players might be forced to follow suit.
The convergence mobility ecosystem is increasingly being characterised by the removal of data silos, as well as the advent of data marketplaces, self-sovereign ID and new economic value being unlocked.
The future of data in automotive
- Removal of silos: DLTs, by their very nature, facilitate value interoperability, which points to a shared and integrated mobility ecosystem characterised by widespread collaboration where resources, value, and data can be exchanged seamlessly and invisibly.
- Data marketplaces:?Through a combination of IoT, AI, and tokenisation we will see end-users, OEMs, auto manufacturers and fleet operators incentivised to open-up, and exchange data as digitised assets through data marketplaces.
- Self-sovereign sign-in:?Users and vehicles, individually and in concert, own and manage self-sovereign identity to unlock a global, ‘single sign-in’, user-account that is not centrally controlled by any one corporation, allowing them to access a distributed ecosystem of mobility assets and services.
- New economic value unlocked:?Smart contracts, distributed computation, automation, and security advances unlock new business models. Vehicles increasingly become computers on wheels, powered by software, with their own autonomous economic agency and new in-transit user interfaces and experiences.
Without fundamentally rethinking our approach to infrastructure for this emergent integrated mobility landscape, we will face a tragedy of the commons. Without shared infrastructure and a collaborative approach, siloed operating systems and data will limit the transformational impact of multimodal mobility.
The consumer will have to navigate a range of different systems, as they move between modes of transport. Businesses will not be able to fully utilise their assets and smart cities will remain only a dream.
However, for all parties to rely upon any one entity to control this system would be to submit to a monopoly that would gain from increasing data and intelligence advantages, becoming almost impossible to remove. That isn’t likely to happen.
We need a mobility ecosystem based on shared infrastructure in which resources, data, and value can be exchanged seamlessly. The convergence ecosystem is a valuable framework for understanding how this decentralised, multimodal, automated, and sustainable infrastructure can be designed and built.