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Mobility and Aerospace
   Traffic simulations
Paulo Humanes and his team use current and historical data to predict how traffic patterns can develop in the future.
often have to contend with a steadily shrinking amount of space for pedestrians and recreational activities. One day the city of Lisbon began discussing this problem with PTV. Its planners wanted to make the city more attractive for pedes- trians again, and commissioned a study on ways of doing so. Among other things, the study revealed that cobblestones in the city center were a problem for pedestrians—by causing many to stumble. “The analysis showed that this happened most often outside bars and restaurants,” says Humanes. The reason, however, was not inebriated patrons, but logistical practices. Many large trucks stop in front of bars to deliver crates of drinks. The trucks are too heavy for the cobble- stones, and make them uneven. “You have to look very closely at things if you want to plan the future,” remarks Humanes. As a possible solution, PTV suggested that parking garages be converted to micro-delivery hubs, i.e., local distribution cen- ters where many goods can be transferred from big trucks to smaller electric vehicles for delivery to their final destinations. “If you don’t need cars in Lisbon anymore, then you can use the parking garages for other purposes,” he adds. Their roofs can hold new bars, or be converted to public squares.
The Lisbon study used simulations with historical data and future projections to show that the city could have ro- botaxis, i.e., shared autonomous vehicles, to meet its trans- portation needs with only a fraction—just 10 percent—of the cars used today. If that were to happen, it would usher in an entirely new form and culture of mobility that would dispel the red lines on the screen in Humanes’ headquarters. The Portuguese manager is optimistic that this will in fact hap- pen. “All over the world we’re seeing how technology is trans- forming mobility,” he says. And puts it in even more specific terms: “There are clear indications that PTV is changing the world.” That is the reason he moved to Karlsruhe after ten years in the English city of Newcastle—to work for sustain- able, efficient, and safe transportation at PTV.
Lisbon is taking concrete steps toward a sustainable future. It has already installed 300 charging stations for e-cars, and required Uber to offer more rides in electric ve- hicles. At the same time, the city is lowering the fares for its
Shared services, lower congestion
How can congestion and emissions be lowered without restricting mobility? To answer this ques- tion, the OECD’s International Transport Forum (ITF) worked with PTV and other partners in 2015 to simulate different configurations in which passen- ger cars, buses, and taxis are replaced by six-seat shared taxis. The taxis offer door-to-door service on demand. They are supplemented by taxi buses that offer corner-to-corner service and that need to be booked thirty minutes in advance.
The result: if Lisbon replaced all private cars, buses, and taxis by fleets of autonomous ride- share vehicles, it could lower CO2 emissions by 62 percent. The number of vehicles would also drop dramatically. Nine out of ten cars would no lon- ger be needed, which would free up a lot of space. The study also examined whether residents would in fact give up their private cars, and nearly one quarter of respondents said that mobility in whatever form is more important to them than owning a car. The study was repeated in Helsinki in 2019, confirming these results.
public transportation system. “Mobility can be an environ- mentally friendly service,” says Humanes. “But there aren’t any blanket solutions.” Every city is different, and good sim- ulations that take all eventualities into account are needed to plan for the future.
“You always have to understand the entire system,” insists Humanes. This approach protects him and his colleagues from a common fallacy, namely, that robotaxis will necessar- ily lower levels of traffic. “On the contrary, the danger is that more people will take cars.” After all, it’s convenient not to have to drive, and to get around without losing time in traffic jams. Lisbon’s estimated 10 percent of vehicles it will need in the future will drive day and night, in contrast to cars today, which spend an average of twenty-three hours a day parked. “That’s why we also need excellent public transportation. Simulations have to show whether new systems are feeding passengers into the metro system, or drawing them away from it.” A rapid metro system and robotaxis for the last few kilometers are good for everyone—both passengers and the environment. And that, says Humanes, is the future.
“Mobility can be an environmentally friendly service. But there aren’t any blanket solutions.”
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