Introducing NPM: Designed to shape the future of mobility
Technology and Business
In this article, we take a look at how driverless is being prioritized in Germany and ask:
- What is the National Platform Future of Mobility (NPM)?
- What does it mean for driverless development in Germany?
- What has the NPM achieved so far?
As with any developing technology, much of the innovation which prompts advancement in driverless capability comes from different sources. OEMs, governments, technology companies and more all make leaps forward with big ideas, growing expertise and even legislative changes. That variety, however, does mean that progress can be stalled as each organization explores separate routes to the same goal. A lack of collaboration and communication slows things down.
In Germany, the opposite is happening. That’s thanks to the National Platform Future of Mobility. Bringing together experts from across the industry, NPM acts as a hub for dialogue around how transport should and will develop over the coming years.
As one central platform for the discussion of transport more broadly, it presents opportunities to bring together technical, legal and social thinking, working out problems and presenting solutions which can benefit the entire industry and, ultimately, end consumers. For us at 2025AD, that’s a fascinating proposition, and one we’re eager to learn more about.
What are the platform’s objectives?
The platform has four broad goals:
- to develop solutions for an environmentally friendly transport system integrating different means of transport
- to ensure a competitive automotive industry
- to enable efficient, high-quality, flexible, safe and affordable mobility
- to promote Germany as a location for employment in the transport industry
Though each has a separate purpose, taken together these aims describe an organization with ambitions for safe, efficient, environmentally conscious travel which is open to all and has benefits beyond transport itself.
Its six working groups drill down into these issues further and make recommendations for action which can ignite real change in automotive and beyond. A few of these – ‘Standardization, norms, certification and type approval’, ‘Digitization for the mobility sector’ and ‘Alternative drive technologies and fuels for sustainable mobility’ – are particularly important when it comes to the progress of driverless tech in Germany. All could look to autonomous solutions to achieve their aims and implement green, futureproof transport.
Does this center Germany in driverless development?
As a major hub for automotive, Germany seems to be a natural home for such a forward-thinking platform centering on the development of transport systems. Its links with several well established and well-respected OEMs also makes Germany an inevitable center for autonomous technology – the fact its already legalizing autonomous driving systems makes that plain.
Elsewhere in the world, legislation is delaying the onset of our driverless future. Find out more in Five reasons why your driverless car hasn’t arrived yet
Moving forward, brand will come to play an increasingly important role in wider acceptance of driverless technologies. Car brands, it’s been suggested, will come to denote lifestyle choices more than they ever have before. Established, premium brands which continue to innovate might therefore be incredibly successful in the AV market. We must remember, then, that German OEMs serve all global markets and currently produce of 70% of all premium vehicles manufactured worldwide.
The existence, and continued innovation, of NPM should support this move towards driverless development. Driverless is, after all, one form of efficient, high-quality, flexible, available, safe and affordable mobility for both passenger and freight transport – the very thing NPM is hoping to achieve.
NPM project: Driverless shuttles in Hamburg
In Hamburg, progress is being made towards that exact goal. In one of the projects within RealLabHH, a real-world lab set up by NPM to gain experience with digital mobility in Germany, autonomous mobility company EasyMile, together with the partners DEKRA, DLR, VHH and Continental, are setting a new benchmark for urban mobility with an on-demand driverless shuttle service.
Launching in August 2021, three autonomous shuttles will provide first-last mile travel in the particularly high demand area of Bergedorf. Already well connected to a suburban rail system and other public transport, the area is ideally suited for an autonomous service which fills the gaps between homes and transport hubs.
This type of travel offers huge opportunities for driverless and is a key area for environmental action through transport innovation. As EasyMile write, “Bergedorf will serve as a benchmark for an environmentally and climate-friendly redesign of future mobility systems.”
Embarking on projects like this is no easy feat and would be impossible without the collaboration of a whole host of organizations including software developers, public transport providers and even local governments. It is NPM’s collaborative approach which makes such trials possible and, should this particular test be a success, may make the organization best placed to begin integrating driverless solutions into our daily lives.
Without a doubt, NPM centers Germany in the development of autonomous transport, but that is nothing if not a natural fit. At 2025AD, we can’t wait to see what comes next.
Share your thoughts in the comments below. What do you think of NPM? Does driverless tech fit well into their vision of a greener future for transport? We’d love to hear what you think.
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