Vrscaj, D., MSc.

The role of user in the transition from automobility towards smart mobility

Technology, Innovation, and Society, School of Innovation Sciences,  Eindhoven University of Technology, t.n.manders@tue.nl

Supervisor: Prof. Geert Verbong


The (auto)mobility system faces several challenges, such as congestion, incidents, local air pollution, and CO2 emissions. ‘Smart mobility’ is one of the newer buzz words that appears to be at the core of debates on how the future (auto)mobility system could evolve (Papa and Lauwers, 2015). Due to a variety of challenges and their interdependencies underlying the mobility system, it is acknowledged that the transition towards a smart mobility system will not merely be a replacement of one technology for another (e.g. from internal combustion engine car to automated driving electric car, from centralized management to distributed traffic management, from generalized route navigation to personalized information), but a more complex configuration of events (e.g. including alternative modes, services, behaviour change) (OECD, System Innovation, 2015).

The car has become deeply embedded in our society, being seen as a symbol of cultural freedom, choice, wealth and status (Sachs, 1992; in Geels, 2012), some researchers even go as far as saying that the car has become an extension of the driver’s body (see Freund, 1993: 99; Hawkins, 1986; Morse, 1998; in Sheller & Urry, 2006) and that we live in a ‘car-dependent society’ (Jeekel, 2013). However, recent research indicates changes in user (auto)mobility behaviour and needs, such as a stabilization in the amount of travel in passenger miles in some developed countries and a small decline in the UK; user increasingly participating in car-sharing initiatives (Geels, 2012). Additionally, consumer preferences are changing in ways that support more urban, multi-modal lifestyles (Jeekel, 2015). The (auto)mobility users have been evolving rather unique mobility needs and preferences. Researching the dynamics of user mobility patterns and needs among various user groups, this project aims to provide a better insight into how the transition from automobility towards smart mobility could evolve over the next 15 years.