It was a pleasure to attend techUK’s Future Mobility Services conference and hear about the innovative mobility and transport technologies being developed across the UK. The agenda included driverless cars, flying taxis and everything in between, with speakers from across the technology and transport sectors including Google Cloud, Hitachi and FiveAI.

I spoke at a session on digital infrastructure and connectivity where I highlighted the experience of BAI Communications in bringing connectivity to passengers around the world and underlined the key role it plays in supporting some of the innovations referenced during the conference.

I certainly left feeling optimistic about the sectors and am thankful to techUK for such a great day. Here are my top four takeaways from the event:

Clean transport is at the top of the agenda

In recent years there has been an interesting trend in transport, with passengers becoming increasingly aware of their own carbon footprint. This has had a big impact on the way we travel. Innovations such as electric cars and biofuels have become the new normal. The need for industry to play a greater part in improving air quality and tackling climate change has been high on the agenda, and last week was no different.

At the conference, a number of companies presented innovations aimed at improving transport sustainability and tackling poor air quality. These included electric mobility, cloud services to support air quality sensors on public transport, and bi-mode trains which make use of electricity.

It was great to see so many companies discussing the sustainability benefits of their technologies. I also highlighted how BAI’s infrastructure has allowed transport authorities to improve their environmental monitoring in stations and underground tunnels across cities including Hong Kong, Toronto and New York.

Partnerships between the private and public sectors are vital

A common theme throughout the day was that for all the investment and innovation from the private sector, there needs to be commitment and partnership with the public sector to achieve real change.

However, collaboration doesn’t just mean on funding. Industry and government must work together to identify the right mechanisms to design and deliver major mobility programmes. The private sector also needs to recognise the wider priorities for public authorities. This is particularly important when it comes to regulating new forms of mobility, ensuring passengers are safe while creating an environment that allows industry to innovate.

At BAI, partnerships with public authorities are a number one priority. We always ensure that our objectives of improved passenger connectivity and smarter travel are aligned with the transport authorities we work with, allowing us to take a long- term approach to our work.

Connectivity is key

For me, the most important discussion of the day focused on connectivity and the need for the necessary infrastructure to make all these innovations a reality. Digital infrastructure is crucial to the future of mobility, for both passengers and businesses.

The future is a lot closer than we think

The idea of flying taxis or driverless cars may sound like a scene from a science fiction movie. However, these technologies are a lot closer to market than most of us realise.

  • FiveAI, the driving autonomy company, gave a brilliant presentation on the challenges and benefits of autonomous driving, including greener, safer and more accessible travel.
  • Sky Ports, the air mobility infrastructure company, is looking to launch air passenger services around the world over the next few years. With the logistics market moving towards the use of drones in recent years, I certainly didn’t expect the passenger transport market to follow.
  • The Government’s own Future Mobility Strategy, published earlier this year, highlighted that commercial drones and vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) services are potentially worth over $1.5 trillion by 2040, so it is no surprise that we are seeing huge steps forward in this area.

I certainly left feeling optimistic about the technology and transport sectors and am thankful to techUK for such a great day.