The Future of Transport: Challenges and Innovative Solutions

Unai Antero, Tecnalia | 23/01/2024

In the future, transport will focus on jointly addressing three main challenges:

  • Achieving sustainable mobility
  • Enabling efficient and smart mobility
  • Managing and optimising the use of mobility resources

In today’s cities, millions of daily journeys in private vehicles have a negative impact on the environment and on people’s health and quality of life.

Accordingly, three key aspects that enable us to envision what “the transport of the future” will look like are electric mobility, shared mobility and automated vehicles.

Collective transport is clearly an effective tool for responding to a part of this challenge: compared to private vehicles, collective transport is more efficient, economic and environmentally-friendly. Furthermore, it reduces emissions and optimises the use of space.

Secondly, since it does not depend on fossil fuels, electric mobility is the mobility of the future.

Lastly, automation and the gradual introduction of Artificial Intelligence and connectivity in vehicles will not only enhance user safety and comfort, but will also boost the efficiency of these resources. In this regard, the 5G rollout will play a pivotal role in future mobility and road safety (enabling real-time communication between vehicles and their surroundings), together with the phasing in of Artificial Intelligence (reducing traffic congestion, boosting road use efficiency and cutting accidents).

Our approach at CRISALION / Tecnalia

The widespread implementation of driverless vehicles on our roads will take time and will depend on several factors, such as regulation, technology and public acceptance.

At CRISALION/Tecnalia, we expect to see a gradual implementation of autonomous vehicles in specific situations, such as motorways or restricted urban areas, in the next few years. Widespread adoption could take many years.

We therefore propose a gradual process based on two lines of action:

  • Improved working conditions for drivers
  • Gradual implementation of driverless technology

This is actually a very similar approach to what has occurred in other areas, such as in certain industry or air transport applications, in which the use of technology has enhanced operators’ occupational comfort and certain tasks have been automated to improve safety.

Based on this approach, our proposal focuses on the concept we call “Intellydrive“, which is essentially the combination of two main ideas:

  • Remote driving: a set of technologies that allows operators to drive vehicles remotely from a control centre. The vehicles are equipped with smart technology, ensuring the safety of remote driving through a capacity to perceive the surroundings and to take action when unforeseen events occur.
  • Vehicles are able to automatically perform certain specific tasks, such as forming convoys, parking, etc.

This approach achieves the dual objectives of improving the driver’s working conditions, “converting” driving into remote working from an office, and optimising resources (by forming convoys, a single driver can operate several vehicles at the same time).

We believe that, before the advent of fully automated vehicles, there will be a transition period in which remotely driven cars will allow for a gradual and controlled conversion. We propose to progress towards this transition gradually and safely, harnessing the current benefits of this approach, such as:

  • Human control in complex situations: Remote driving allows humans to intervene in difficult or unexpected situations, which can be especially valuable in heavy traffic, extreme weather or construction scenarios. A human operator can make context-based decisions that an AI model may struggle to handle.
  • Lower upfront costs: Implementing a fully automated driving system requires a substantial investment in sensors, hardware and software. Remote driving may make more use of conventional vehicle infrastructure and technology, resulting in lower upfront costs.
  • Flexible adoption: Remote driving may be implemented in conventional vehicles with relatively little modification, facilitating its adoption in existing fleets. Fully automated driving often requires specific, purpose-built vehicles.
  • Driving in unmapped areas: In areas where there is insufficient mapped information or road signs, remote driving may be a more viable option, as a human operator can make decisions based on real-time observation.

In short, it is safe to say that today there are considerable obstacles (technical, regulatory, and so on) to achieving safe and reliable automated vehicles. Given these obstacles, remote vehicle control may be a unique solution to bridge the gap, harnessing the flexibility, decision-making capabilities and adaptability of human intervention.

This is where we believe that a strategy of phasing in automated driving technology may be key to long-term success. Our Intellydrive concept reflects this approach of gradually progressing towards full vehicle automation.

In any event, this is no trivial transition either, and there are already multiple organisations evaluating the challenges it poses. For example, in view of the imminent adoption of this approach, the document created by the UK’s “Law Commission”[1], puts forward suggestions for reforming the legal system in the United Kingdom and adopting a series of measures to mitigate/control the risk[2], highlighting the need to work on:

  1. The adequacy of the communication network.
  2. The risk mitigation system if communication fails.
  3. Cibersecurity.
  4. Workstation design and functionality.
  5. The security of the remote operations centre.
  6. Staff training.
  7. Staff health, fitness and vetting.
  8. Staff attention and rest periods.
  9. Roadworthiness checks.
  10. Incident protocols.

At CRISALION/Tecnalia we are already working on these aspects, and we have a functional test system that we are using to validate the approach.



[1] an independent body established by the Law Commissions Act 1965, for the purpose of reviewing and recommending reforms of the law of England and Wales where necessary

[2] See:

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