MOBILE IN THE DISTRICT
Mr Deparis, the pressure on cities and conurbations is growing; mobility in urban areas must be rethought. What role does Mercedes-Benz Group AG play in the field of urban mobility?
An integral part of the sustainable business strategy of the Mercedes-Benz Group is the field of action "Mobility for Liveable Cities" with its focus on "Sustainable Urban Mobility". Our goal is to help cities and their residents, as well as entire regions and individual neighbourhoods, with their requirements in the areas of safety, sustainability, efficiency and accessibility of mobility.
Mobility is context-based: We believe that there is a mobility solution for every situation - one that focuses on citizens and their individual needs. To be able to offer them, we want to further develop and bundle existing products and at the same time develop and test new concepts. With this goal in mind, the Urban Mobility Solutions department was founded in 2019. Here, we work as a team to develop and build solutions for safer, more efficient, accessible and clean mobility. Last year, for example, we worked with the City of London to create a tool that identifies accident blackspots - before the first collisions have occurred there. This is a very concrete example of how we as car manufacturers can help to make road traffic safer for all participants.
The topic of e-mobility is omnipresent when we talk about the mobility of the future - how do you think e-mobility will change our cities or lives?
At Mercedes-Benz, we have set the course for a software-driven and emission-free future: We are preparing to go fully electric before the end of the decade - wherever market conditions permit. Already by the end of this year, we will offer battery-electric vehicles in all segments. Such decisions will change cities permanently. With the help of artificial intelligence, both urban traffic flow and logistics distribution will be optimised. City dwellers will be able to flexibly choose their mobility options, while private vehicles will remain desirable for many as a personal living space. Vehicles will be interconnected, making a valuable contribution to improving urban infrastructure. Car-to-car communication will complement urban infrastructure. Anonymised vehicle data will help predict traffic jams or identify potential accident blackspots. All of this will make the city of the future worth living in. I am proud to be helping to shape this change with Mercedes-Benz Urban Mobility Solutions.
In addition to e-mobility, the topic of intelligent networked mobility with reference to data is also red-hot. What can we expect here?
Smart and connected mobility will become part of our everyday lives. In addition, there are a number of important initiatives through which we can support smart and connected cities with our solutions by means of a data and analytics platform. Data is an important raw material for us to develop data-based solutions. However, it is particularly about generating actionable information and insights from this raw material. We now know that in this way and through a clear visualisation of the data via a dashboard, we create a great added value for urban planners, for example. On this basis, they can in turn make decisions to increase road safety.
Are there already concrete examples of how vehicle data can provide a benefit in urban space?
The cooperation with the city of London mentioned at the beginning of this article is a good example. London is the first European metropolis to specifically use data from Mercedes-Benz driver assistance systems to make the city's streets safer for everyone. The focus is on pedestrians and cyclists. Our team has developed the Mercedes-Benz Road Safety Dashboard in a pilot project with the Transport for London (TfL) authority. Based on aggregated individual messages from driving assistance systems, which are now offered in almost all Mercedes-Benz model series, comprehensive analyses can be carried out, provided the driver actively agrees to this via the "Mercedes me" app. Using this data, we can identify critical points in Greater London that pose a potential safety risk to vulnerable road users. The city can then use traffic planning measures to defuse these points before an accident occurs. In our view, this is a milestone on the road to accident-free driving. London is only the starting point.
Partnerships are important catalysts for making a complex system like the city fit for the future. What needs to happen on the part of urban development?
Partnerships are essential to identify and address new impulses, needs and trends in urban mobility at an early stage. We are convinced that creating shared values is the key to sustainable urban mobility in the future. That is why our teams work closely with representatives of cities, partners from industry, planners and researchers, as well as other Mercedes-Benz business units. In this way, we want to open up new business areas, further develop the portfolio of Mercedes-Benz Group AG and prepare the company for future developments in urban passenger and freight transport.
What are your personal wishes for the future?
My wish is quite clearly the "Vision Zero" - i.e. accident- and emission-free road traffic. I work with my team every day to make this vision a reality. No one can achieve this alone. That's why it takes joint efforts. A good example is the "Code the Streets" project. We set it up together with the cities of Amsterdam and Helsinki and with representatives from industry and research. The aim of the project was to link the drivers' cars with the cities in order to be able to offer the most sustainable route guidance possible. In all projects with cities and municipalities, we experience the enthusiasm for the joint work.
How would you see the current state of development in terms of urban mobility?
Topics of digitalisation and digital networking in urban space are no longer unknown. At the same time, demands for more sustainable urban mobility are growing day by day. We also see very clearly in our work that more and more smaller cities and municipalities are also looking for appropriate solutions. Thus, the spectrum of our urban project partners ranges from metropolises like London to local districts like the Zollernalbkreis. With the Urban Mobility Systems, we establish concrete solutions for entire cities or individual neighbourhoods. We advise cities and urban stakeholders (e.g. neighbourhood developers and event organisers) on the design and implementation of holistic mobility systems to solve their mobility challenges. Our goal is to enable better connections and to cleverly network existing mobility solutions. Customers benefit from the Group's broad-based expertise and from customised solutions. With us, not only is a comprehensive and holistic concept developed, it is also realised and handed over ready for operation with the help of our strong internal and external network.
Our approach is to initiate change today with concrete approaches and to waste less time with concept papers. We welcome like-minded people who share this pragmatic approach with us.
Thank you very much for the interesting conversation.
Daniel Deparis, Head of Urban Mobility Solutions, Mercedes Benz Group AG
has headed the "Urban Mobility Solutions" division at Mercedes-Benz Group AG since 2019. Together with his team, he networks all forces in the company that deal with urban mobility and works on new products and solutions that contribute to improving the quality of life in cities.