DiPP - Smart mobility: has the revolution stalled?
ICT is fast transforming the highly complex, critically important automotive business throughout : not only car manufacturing but spare parts, insurance, road signaling, etc. The tech revolution doesn’t stop there : our daily life will never be the same as shared mobility crowds out vehicle ownership, safety concerns rise with every bump in road-testing autonomous cars and ethics takes on renewed importance as AI feeds on a massive diet of data.
Against this background, DIGITALEUROPE hosted a DiPP workshop on 25 May to shed light on where smart mobility is going. The following experts had kindly agreed to launch this debate:
- Eddy Hartog
Head of Unit, Smart Mobility & Living, DG CONNECT, European Commission
- Joost Vantomme
Smart Mobility Director, European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association
- Radu Colonescu
European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers’ Association
- Christoph Lütge
Professor of Business Ethics, Technische Universität München
- Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl
Director General at DIGITALEUROPE
Impressive achievements so far
The consensus answer to the question ‘Has the smart mobility revolution stalled ?’ was a resounding no. Quite the opposite actually: it is revving up its engine, ready to build on considerable progress made over the last three years.
Industry is moving away from silos and working more and more together to find transversal solutions. This is not to say that industry has no more homework to do and this should resonate with DIGITALEUROPE. In this context the third Mobility Package should be seen as the last chance over the next two years to benefit a proper framework to proceed forward.
The Commission sticks to its technology-neutral stance. They are also well aware of the continuing tension between principle-based policy-making and innovation, helping industry to walk this fine line. The case of legacy industries like telecoms exemplifies this additional hurdle: ex ante regulation works as an impediment to cooperating with more fleet-footed sectors.
Ethics was declared a priority by all speakers, to drive the inevitable shift from man-made decisions to data-powered ones in the right direction. Ethics permeates the automotive value-chain all along. Arguably, it provides a master tool to enhance tech acceptance by consumers by building trust among them. Few experts underestimate the risk of taking tech early to market, when rules are not yet agreed and enforced. In this respect, the world’s first-ever code of ethics for autonomous cars was developed in 2017 under the auspices of the German Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure: https://www.bmvi.de/SharedDocs/EN/Documents/G/ethic-commission-report.pdf?__blob=publicationFile Not only has this pioneering initiative inspired bilateral talks with France, it is catching global attention: the committee that authored its 20 ethical guidelines is invited to share their experience in Canada, the US, Singapore, etc. Some issues remained out of reach of a consensus within the committee, like, interestingly, the suggestion to afford drivers the ability to take back control at all times.
Room for improvement
Assuming that smart mobility is meant for all, there are a number of roadblocks to get around, as illustrated in the attached slides on ‘Interconnected policy shaping’.
Data sharing is one of them: everybody concedes that the value of data is a direct function of its sharing, everybody admits that public sector data must be shared, everybody praises the merits of openness and free flows of data but sharing B2B data is a tougher nut to crack till terms and conditions are agreed. Indeed, car manufacters now include a second line of business: producing data. They increasingly sell Mobility as a Service (MaaS). The Commission’s approach to bring all stakeholders together in order to split the burden has a proven record of effectiveness.
There is a lot of common ground between industries concerned:
Article 29 Working Party has deemed vehicle data to be personal;
The ePrivacy Directive is a major threat to all IoT-driven industry as long as vehicles can be considered as telecom terminal equipment;
Liability must be under control before autonomous cars take on to the roads ; blackboxes are seriously considered like in air transportation ;
Safety is top priority for manufacturers of tyres, the only connection to the road, whether the vehicle is combustion engine-powered, electric, connected or autonomous ;
Regulatory policy and standards must be global from the outset or at least fully compatible or interoperable.
Given current trends, the car taskforce should link up with the AI taskforce to hone the edge the EU seems to enjoy globally.
The way forward
In short, the record of smart mobility across the EU is shining. It bodes well for continuing progress on the many problem-areas that have yet to be addressed via multi-stakeholder actions.