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From human needs to innovative solutions

Design and the mobility of the future

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From the transport of goods to slow travel, from individual traffic to shared mobility: the mobility of the future is a thematic field full of different sub-aspects. In addition to the challenges within these areas, the megatrend must also simultaneously keep up with global tasks like climate change and the digital society. Find out here what role design can play in sustainably rethinking traffic, infrastructure and logistics.

Mobility of the future-mobility by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Greener, safer and smarter – the mobility of the future is facing the challenge of functioning in a neo-ecological economy. (Photo: Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash)

Design and mobility: design for sustainable traffic offerings

Modern mobility research is interdisciplinary. It is composed of technological, organisational and planning tasks. Many ecological and usability aspects must be considered in the process. Good design is essential to successfully convey these complex thematic areas. That starts with the design of user-friendly apps and self-explanatory orientation aids and ends with the safe and routine use of modern traffic solutions.

This is because, where the user experience hits a speed bump, other paths will quickly be sought. Those who get lost in a train station will probably avoid this when possible. Needs and demands thereby extend beyond the fundamental approaches of orientation. Only when offerings are designed attractively, will users identify with them and feel at ease in these mobility systems in their everyday routine. Good design thus transforms from a "nice to have" to a fundamental component of the future of mobility, because it serves basic human needs for safety, orientation and well-being.

The mobility trends in 2023

The way in which we move will orient itself to the megatrends of sustainability and digital networking. In concrete terms, trend researchers have focused on the following:

Cities for all instead of just for cars

Urban planning has concentrated for far too long on the needs of drivers, and not on those of pedestrians and cyclists. With the corona crisis at the latest, the focus has once again turned to urban quality of life and green visions for public space are finding more acceptance – from car-free city neighbourhoods through better cycling paths to the greening of roofs and facades for more climate protection.

Shared mobility and autonomous vehicles

Thanks to digitalisation and networking, our consumer behaviour is transforming fundamentally: from inefficient ownership to the temporary use of individual solutions. Each year, new, often fossil-free mobility offerings are introduced to the major cities, and autonomous driving is almost within our grasp. With this, the Vision Zero also seems possible, meaning the hope for traffic without accidents and deaths. At the same time, car parks are disappearing and public space is becoming more inclusive for everyone.

Slow travel and gentle tourism

The speed of our mobility has increased rapidly. However, a rethinking has taken place in recent years, intensified by the corona pandemic. Neighbourhood activities, walks and playing children are once again a fixed element of street life. A shared infrastructure with cycling roads, a 30 kmh speed limit and encounter zones decelerates the traffic and even strengthens the retail trade. This mindfulness also continues with longer journeys: with slow travel we want to once again consciously discover our environment without stress - and come into conversation with other people.

Mobility of the future-cable cars-snowscat-on unsplash

Modern cable cars make it possible to connect neighbourhoods with one another without complicated tunnels or bridges and make the city experienceable from above. (Photo: Snowcat on Unsplash)

Cable cars: from the mountains to the urban space

The mobility of the future also means the integration of new, innovative means of transportation. Cable cars could contribute to sustainable traffic in large cities. The advantages are obvious: modern cable cars are quiet, high-performance and can be operated emission-free. Without complicated tunnels or bridges, the cabs can float over obstacles, connect residential areas with one another and make the city experienceable from above. Almost incidentally, cable cars also mean very minor soil sealing. Less concrete means greener cities that can better deal with increasing temperatures in the course of climate change.

However, introducing cable cars to the complex mobility system of large cities is a challenge. Seamless transitions between buses, trains and shared mobility services must be created in order to embed the new transport system. Successful example projects from Paris, Almere or Mexiko City demonstrate good feasibility and are in some cases already used by thousands of travellers each day.

The mobility of the future must be designed

Mobility is a global megatrend. In order to transition this aspect of our everyday life into a sustainable future, the theme must be innovatively reconsidered – and successfully designed. Only with a holistic strategy that does not simply incorporate design at the end of the process can this massive revolution in our mobility succeed. Manufacturers, regardless of whether for the public space or individual mobility, can now anticipate these trends and contribute to the mobility of the future.

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