Future transport technologies

As part of our initial work for Work Package 4 in the INTEND project, a desk research has been carried out to identify emerging innovative transport technologies and mobility services of high future relevance. Thereby, we deliberately focussed on non-scientific literature (e.g. blogs, magazine articles, etc.), to keep track on the latest ongoing developments in our field of examination. The identified trends and developments were grouped into the four categories vehicle, engine, material and infrastructure/operating technologies.

In the field of vehicle technologies, a major trend emerging in all modes of transport are autonomous driving systems. Several prototypes of unmanned cargo ships and aircrafts are currently in trial operations and indicate a large scale implementation of the technology first in the freight sector. The major breakthrough though is expected in passenger transportation, where besides prototypes of autonomous vehicles several other innovative concepts such as autonomous passenger drones already exist. Although autonomous systems have the potential to disrupt the transport sector to a significant extent in the future, non-technical issues such as lagging legal framework conditions are currently the major obstacles to overcome for this technology.

In the field of engine technologies, one of the major developments that is currently influencing the industry is the electrification of conventional combustion engines. While the early generations of electric vehicles reached ranges of only a few kilometres, today even affordable middle class electric cars reach 300 kilometres and more with a single battery charge. However, there remain several constraints concerning the overall eco-balance of electric vehicles, mainly due to the production process of the lithium-ion batteries. Several experts therefore favour (in terms of a sustainability transformation of the transport system) the fuel cell technology, as hydrogen is more suitable as a storage medium regarding the energy density. But also within this technology, there arise serious doubts concerning the overall eco-balance, as hydrogen has to be produced industrially and therefore has a high primary energy demand. Nevertheless, regarding the ongoing political debates about climate protection and reduction targets in CO2 emissions, both of these technologies are expected to have a strong disruptive potential for the future within the automotive industry.

In the field of material technologies, future developments in the transport sector will probably mainly focus on additive manufacturing methods (3D printing) and lightweight construction, which are mutually related. 3D printing is increasingly being used in various transport related industries, because it enables the design of individual parts with more intricate geometries and thus overall less weight. In addition, 3D printing allows a more cost-efficient production, as storage costs can be saved through printing on-demand. This technological development (as part of the emerging industry 4.0) is expected to have a significant influence on traditional manufacturing processes, resulting in a fundamental reorganisation of the transport industry in the future.

In the field of infrastructure/operating technologies, Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) are one of the major trends emerging, mainly in the course of the megatrend Digitization. ITS-technologies optimize traffic flows and the use of infrastructure by intelligently managing and directing the different traffic elements. The following types of communication can be differentiated within ITS-technologies:

  • Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I)
  • Infrastructure-to-Vehicle (I2V)
  • Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V)

Practical examples for ITS-technologies can be found in car park management, traffic management or navigation applications. Further emerging innovations are Truck Platooning, where several Trucks are connected together through V2V-communication, moving one after the other at a constant distance or collective/swarm intelligence, where specific actions of individuals can evoke intelligent behaviours in the community through communication and networking activities (e.g. search for a parking space).

In a next step, the transport technologies identified will be assessed concerning their potential respectively challenge for supporting a change of the mobility system towards sustainability. Based on this, gaps and blind spots in current transport research activities will be further revealed.

For more information about INTEND, visit the project Homepage or follow the latest news on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Our activity

Energie-Apéros Aargau

Im Rahmen der Energie-Apéros Aargau werden Dr. Merja Hoppe (Leiterin Forschungsbereich Nachhaltige Transportsysteme, Institut für Nachhaltige Entwicklung, ZHAW) und Dr. Andrea Del Duce (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter, Institut für Nachhaltige Entwicklung, ZHAW) an 3 Terminen im Januar 2018 über das Thema “Mobilität – die Gesellschaft bewegt sich” referieren. Die Energieapéros werden seit 1997 durchgeführt und bieten einer breiten Zielgruppe die einmalige Gelegenheit, Informationen über aktuelle Schwerpunktthemen aus dem Themenbereich Energie aus erster Hand zu erfahren und mit Vertretern aus Wirtschaft, Politik und Forschung zu diskutieren.


Baden, Donnerstag, 18. Januar 2018, 17:30-19:30 (Dr. Merja Hoppe)

Zofingen, Dienstag, 23. Januar 2018, 17:30-19:30 (Dr. Merja Hoppe)

Lenzburg, Donnerstag, 25. Januar 2018, 17:30-19:30 (Dr. Andrea Del Duce)

Weitere Informationen und Anmeldung unter Energie-Apéros Aargau.


INTEND (INtentify future Transport rEsearch NeeDs) – Kick-off Meeting

In mid-October, the new EU project INTEND (INtentify future Transport rEsearch NeeDs) with participation of the Institute of Sustainable Development of ZHAW was launched with the Kick-off Meeting at the National Transport Design Center at Coventry University (UK). The INTEND project is a one-year research project, funded by the European Union as a part of the Horizon 2020 research programme. It aims to reinforce the long-term competitiveness of the European transport sector, based on the development of a research agenda for a forward-looking transport sector. The overall objective is to deliver the European Commission officials as well as transport industry stakeholders, researchers and members of the public a study on the research needs and priorities of the European transport sector through systematic data collection.

The INTEND Consortium consists of:

  • Coventry University Enterprises Limited (CUE) – Coordinator of the INTEND project
  • Centre for Research and Technology Hellas / Hellenic Institute of Transport (CERTH/HIT)
  • University of Belgrade, Faculty of Transport and Traffic Engineering (FTTE)
  • Technische Universität Berlin (TUB)
  • Zurich University of Applied Sciences / Institute of Sustainable Development (ZHAW/INE)

More information about the work structure, ongoing developments and first results will follow continously on this blog. Fur further information about INTEND, visit the project HOMEPAGE or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

The INTEND Consortium at the Kick-off Meeting at Coventry University (UK).

E-Destination Bodensee

E-Destination Bodensee: Results of a stakeholder survey on touristic e-mobility

The project E-Destination explores the potential of electric mobility for tourism in the Lake of Constance area. In this regard an online survey with relevant stakeholder groups was conducted. The stakeholders were asked to evaluate different aspects concerning touristic e-mobility in the region and critical factors that could contribute to an enhancement of e-mobility.

According to the stakeholders there is a notably lack of rental offers for e-cars for touristic use. On the other hand the infrastructure for e-bike rental and charging stations for both e-bikes and e-cars are ranked clearly better, but still with potential for improvement. At the same time the respondents are rating the information and communication of the e-mobility offers for tourists mostly as inadequate. Hence, the stakeholders consider communication and advertisement of e-mobility offers as one of the most important factors that can contribute to the rise of touristic e-mobility in the region. Other critical success factors are transnational mobility offers, standardized modes of use for charging stations and integrated mobility offers including public transport and e-mobility.

More information about the project can be found in this blog.

Our projects

Transforming the Swiss Mobility System towards sustainability

The current effects of the Swiss transport sector on greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption require a transformation towards a more sustainable mobility system. Identifying options and barriers of the current system for such a transformation allows deriving different action fields, which will provide the starting points for developing specific strategies.

These issues are targeted in our latest working paper, where we map options, barriers and action fields for the transformation of the Swiss mobility system. We do this on the basis of the insights gained in the SCCER Mobility research throughout the last years. A SWOT analysiy of the system is followed by specific action fields, in which concrete measures need to be developed in the future.

Transforming the Swiss Mobility System towards sustainability. Available from: [accessed Aug 3, 2017].

by Merja Hoppe and Tobias Michl

This research was supported by the Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research (SCCER) Efficient Technologies and Systems for Mobility, funded by the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI).