Future scenarios reveal best technology investments for UK transport

Without substantial investment, by 2035 the UK will experience severe congestion across its transport infrastructure. This study by RAND and Risk Solutions, explores how emerging technologies could address this problem by utilising capacity more efficiently, supporting different mode choices, and managing or reducing travel demand.

First, we identified the six key technologies that may influence the effectiveness and efficiency of transport:

  • autonomous vehicles
  • next generation ICT connectivity
  • advanced manufacturing (3D printing)
  • user apps / big data and intelligent processing
  • the Internet of Things
  • novel materials and embedded sensors in infrastructure.
  • Next we developed three future scenarios to examine the influence of these technologies on travel:

  • Driving Ahead - based on higher-than-forecast economic growth and widespread use of autonomous vehicles
  • Live Local - with moderate growth and use of travel substitution due to advances in communications technology
  • Digital Divide - in which technologies advance but are not evenly distributed because of increased income inequality.
  • Key Recommendations

    From the scenarios, a number of priority investments and recommendations were identified:

  • Next generation telecommunication services, such as super-fast broadband, and use of big data, 'apps' and intelligent processing were identified as technologies requiring priority investment
  • A number of barriers to autonomous vehicles were identified. These will need to be addressed before they are adopted widely across UK society.
  • As more technologies are adopted within the UK, privacy and security concerns for the public will need to be addressed through policies and regulatory frameworks.
  • You can read the full report here, or a summary of the report here, or contact the report's lead authors, Charlene Rohr, at crohr@rand.org, and Eleanor Baker, at eleanor.baker@risksol.co.uk, for more information.