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Coronavirus Pandemic: In the coming years, the coronaio will bring changes to the travel model

The combination of any persistent effects of the Covid-19 pandemic may bring about rapid changes in the model of human movement worldwide.…….

with the continuing rapid advancement of technology, in the middle of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Simply put, if on the "next day" of the pandemic the worst case scenario prevails, that is, if such global events are established as a threat and repeated traffic restriction or control measures are needed., it is possible that they will change - with the help of technology- even the media themselves, which we use for our travels, with the ownership and use of a car in an urban environment it is likely to be abolished, giving way to shared autonomous vehicles (OF) and public transport to take on a different character in the coming decades.

At a time when humanity is living the unprecedented, obviously all this is nothing but scenarios. But scenarios help to formulate strategy in unprecedented conditions.

APE-BPE discusses possible changes with the director of the AUTh Transportation Systems Research Team, Professor Aristotelis Naniopoulos and the director of the AUTh Transportation Technical Laboratory, Assistant Professor Ioannis Politis.

Autonomous and self-cleaning "taxis";

"If the pandemic develops like the previous ones, will leave behind limited changes in travel. But if the worst case scenario is confirmed, we will have drastic changes ", observes, Speaking to ANA-MPA, Mr.. Naniopoulos.

"Public transport around the world, which is understood to be absolutely necessary for environmental reasons, social and economic, they can then be considered potentially dangerous, because they gather a large number of people in a limited and not sufficiently ventilated area, without checking at the entrance to confirm if someone is sick and with a plethora of surfaces, which passengers touch. It is not excluded then to see autonomous vehicles (without driver) in taxi services, which will accept one or two passengers and will be self-cleaning, B.C., with surfaces with nanomaterial coatings "he explains, noting, of course, that, to make this scenario a reality, complex issues need to be addressed, such as security, institutional issues and the cost to the end user - much more complex topics than the technology itself.

The five senses and human contact

But if things go smoothly, adds, in addition to a reduction in mobility, due to the turn of many people in teleworking, the movements as we know them will return, with minor differences:

"It simply came to our notice then, but man also moves for experience, gaining insight into the world with the five senses. Otherwise it would be enough for us to see a good documentary with a high definition image to feel that we know a place. also, human contact is not replaced. It's OK, for example, online courses, in which cat’ need we turned to university during this time, but they cannot replace living teaching. Obviously they will help a lot with continuing education, lifelong learning, at a time when today's young people may need to change professions or subjects two or three times, but it is not the same as living teaching, That's why I believe that travel for education will not stop. ".

Changes that came to stay;

"The changes are likely to be due to the pandemic, as in many cases teleworking or tele-education, but also making ecommerce purchases instead of visiting physical stores and diagnosing them remotely in private clinics, combined with the advancement of technology, which makes all this possible, they will probably cause several differences in our travels, "he said, Speaking to APE-MPE, the transportation expert Ioannis Politis, Assistant Professor at the Department of Civil Engineering, AUTh.

Currently, notes, the baton of digital transformation is held by the state, but logically the private sector will receive it very quickly, creating new data at work, the education, private clinics, etc. - and therefore the reasons why we are moving.

"It simply came to our notice then, so everything is scripts and estimates, but useful for strategy making. How the travel model may really change in the near future, because of coronavirus, it is very difficult to predict, even with relative accuracy, because we don't know how the pandemic itself will develop. If the vaccine is found too quickly, probably nothing will change and we will return to exactly where we were. But if such pandemics are established as a threat, with high mortality rates, They will definitely change a lot, "said Mr. Politis.

Fewer passengers, less revenue and a big issue of economic nature for transport infrastructure

In this last case, changes are expected to occur in public transport and transport. As it says, today, “Public transport transport project providers, have not signed any commitment with the state, in relation to the number of people transporting by bus or wagon, if they do not exceed its maximum capacity: if they fit 100 people, They will enter 100. But if the problem with the Covid-19 persists, I consider it very likely that it will be imposed, from states now, the restriction that they cannot transfer a number, B.C., above the 50% the capacity of buses or trains, so that they do not turn into health bombs. It is obvious that this will change the situation. ".

But next to the problem of how public transport works on its own, an issue of economic nature arises, not insignificant:

"Today, Too many transport infrastructure projects in Greece are co-financed, with PPP (Public-Private Partnerships) or with funding from structural funds and investment banks, such as e.g., the European Investment Bank (EIB). These financial mechanisms, however, release funds based on a specific financial framework, related to the revenue collected by project operators (B.C., motorway managers), from passenger traffic or tolls. So if these revenues are significantly reduced, due to the vertical decline in traffic and commuting, then a serious question arises, as the financial risk of the major transport projects that will take place in Greece automatically increases, as a result, financial schemes are reluctant to participate. " says Mr. Politis.

Abolition of car ownership;

in any case, regardless of the changes, which the pandemic may leave behind, accelerating some differences in movement models, the 4th Industrial Revolution in itself launches rapid changes. Changes accelerated by the progress of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data technology, as well as the emergence of the 5G and Internet of Things networks (IoT).

As Mr. explains. Citizen, in a few decades from today, car ownership may have been abolished. It has probably given way to a fully automated system, where the movement of shared cars without a driver (OF), buses and bicycles will be controlled centrally and through agreements between states (since the vehicles will also travel from state to state).

And where more than technology itself, security issues will now "count" (security in relation to who has access to this system and can affect it, B.C, for terrorism purposes) and management (who owns it).

Covid-19 will not affect the development of AVs, which will probably slow down anyway anyway

"I believe that the transition to this model that I just described will not be affected by the pandemic.", says Mr.. Citizen, adding, however, that the timeline for what he describes will come true, it is finally being revised in the very birthplace of the conception of autonomous vehicles, US.

"The United States was the leader in AV. These brought autonomous vehicles to the forefront both as an idea and as research. And while until recently it was rumored that we could have them in more mass production and use within the next decade, last January, I first heard it at the Transport Research Board conference, in Washington, that the pace at which we thought things would turn out, will probably be slower instead of for a decade, they now sound like a timeline 15 or also 20 years ", concludes Ioannis Politis.

Buy many billions of euros

According to Mr.. Naniopoulos, however, the existence of autonomous vehicles (OF) level 4 (that is, fully automated), for use in taxi services may be a fact earlier, in a decade from today, creating a huge multi-billion euro market and making it unprofitable to own and use cars by citizens in an urban environment.

"It simply came to our notice then, will be a dramatic development, which will create huge opportunities and mobilize very large investments from countries, organizations, car manufacturers, Cyber ​​Security and Artificial Intelligence Systems, Aristotle Naniopoulos points out.

Greece offers an ideal environment for AB testing

He expresses the assessment that Greece offers an ideal environment for testing autonomous vehicles: "I was talking to a colleague from Coventry recently (England), where real-world AV tests are performed. He told me that there is a great demand for testing areas in a real environment and that Greece offers ideal conditions for such a thing, because it presents a complex traffic environment, with a variety of climatic conditions per season, so it's a very interesting case in terms of the data that can be collected. ".

He adds that at a time when traffic restrictions have been imposed due to the pandemic, at a time when the 4th industrial revolution is underway and is constantly shaping new technological possibilities (robot, Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing, IoT), a new becoming is created, in the context of which there is expected to be great market mobility worldwide.

"It simply came to our notice then, but also opportunities. And we, as Greece, can also play a role. To pursue entrepreneurship, the creation, the production of new products and services at low cost. We have minds that can produce technology, if we also acquire the mentality and stop criminalizing entrepreneurship and profit, we can achieve a lot in this field ", Mr. ends. Naniopoulos.

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