Transport and the way people use it is changing. In the next 20-years, urban mobility is expected to be transformed by the widespread roll-out of fully autonomous vehicles operating within a ride-hailing, mobility as a service (MaaS) model. This will enable people living in and visiting cities to plan, book and pay for multiple types of mobility services through a digital channel.
This new model could enhance our experience of taking a journey. We will be safer, more comfortable and enjoy a higher level of convenience. Our concern about the cost of the daily commute may also become outdated, as there are also great cost savings to be made both for transport providers and users.
SEM vehicle technology
As part of this shift, fully autonomous vehicles operating under a MaaS model have the potential to solve some of the biggest transport challenges that the world faces; namely, the environmental impacts of road vehicles such as reducing road traffic congestion and accidents, greenhouse gases and pollutants and providing solutions for people who currently have limited access to transport. These solutions will be realised when MaaS is integrated with existing modes of public transport like trains and busses.
If we all move towards private ride hailing services (one autonomous vehicle per person, per journey) the problem will not be solved.
Advanced high-strength steels will enable future transportation challenges
Autonomous vehicles of the future will require many new innovations. This includes development in electrical and control systems in the form of radar and lidar sensors and changes in vehicle architecture or structure. Autonomous vehicles create opportunities and present different requirements, and the structure of vehicles will need to adapt to that. The Steel E-Motive program is woking to develop two vehicle concepts for MaaS applications.
The Steel E-Motive SEM1 and SEM2 vehicles are ‘all electric’ with zero tailpipe emissions that will help cut urban pollution. The vehicle has been designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible during its complete lifecycle.
The Steel E-Motive vehicles incorporate some of the latest 'reduced carbon' steel grades in their design and, through advanced fabrication processes, achieve more efficient steel use per part, meaning less overall steel production.
Addressing vehicle safety
The future of transport will be safer than it is now. Governments, city planners, vehicle manufacturers and fleet operators already face a big challenge when it comes to reducing accidents for passengers and pedestrians and improving vehicle safety.
Autonomous vehicles operating in a MaaS model can help reduce road traffic accidents and fatalities because the vehicles have advanced sensor and control features that detect potential collisions and rapidly activate avoidance measures reducing accidents caused by human error. However, in the early stages of roll out, these vehicles are expected to operate in a ‘mixed mode’, where autonomous vehicles will be operating alongside owner-driven vehicles. This means that there is still a risk of high-speed vehicle to vehicle or vehicle-to-obstacle collision.
To address this, the Steel E-Motive vehicles are engineered to meet high-speed international crash test standards. Leveraging the steel industry’s Advanced High-Strength Steel portfolio, our vehicles are engineered to the demands of MaaS, meet stringent vehicle safety targets, and deliver optimal mass, cost and comfort.
These vehicles are designed to be mass produced at high volume and to be affordable. A steel body structure can be produced at a more competitive cost than alternative materials. Autonomous vehicles will also be cheaper to run due to higher operational efficiency in use and reduced labour costs.
The Steel E-Motive vehicles have been engineered with future users’ needs in mind. The Advanced High-Strength Steel body structure is designed to reduce noise and vibration, so that the journey is more comfortable. The vehicles are perfect for ride hailing in an urban environment as they have a flat interior floor, an accessible ‘step-in height’ and a wide entry door aperture. Both vehicles feature four-wheel steering, with a generous turning circle, enabling the vehicles to operate in confined spaces. This makes it easier for people to hail and access the vehicles in restricted areas.
Awareness of safety and environmental challenges is on the rise and the design and features of the Steel E-Motive vehicles will reassure future passengers that travelling in this way is contributing to the global drive for safer and sustainable mobility.