Transport Research How do young people imagine the mobility of tomorrow?

Ein Ausschnitt aus den Zukunftsvisionen von Jugendlichen und Erwachsenen.
An excerpt from the future visions of young people and adults.

What will the vehicles of the future look like? What expectations, wishes and fears do young people and adults have for the future? The DLR Institute of Transportation Systems investigated these and other questions.

In the second half of 2019, transport systems researchers from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) asked around 100 pupils, parents and the teaching staff of six schools in Lower Saxony what they imagine the transport and mobility behaviour of people in 5, 15 and 35 years of age to be like. The aim of the DLR scientists is to collect images of the future and analyse scenarios. These findings can then serve as a basis for future transport research. The first results are now available.

Visions of the interviewed students

  • »There will be small, self-propelled buses to pick me up at home.«
  • »In the future, there will be no more diesel or gasoline cars.«
  • »There will be new environmentally friendly airplanes.«
  • »The world doesn't need electric scooters.«
  • »I want a chameleon car where I'm not always seen.«

Key topics for the respondents were electric mobility, environment and sustainability.

»We interviewed students aged 15 to 16. At this age they are faced with the first major decisions in life: Driving licence and the choice of school-leaving certificate«, says DLR mobility expert Dr Nadine Fritz-Drobeck. The adult participants were selected randomly by the team. The only common feature was that they all had at least ten years of mobility experience, i.e. they were all at least 28 years old. »In our projects we constantly analyze future scenarios. Which new mobility concepts make sense, which are needed? The study is a step for us to generate future scenarios on which we at DLR can conduct research together«.

Very similar wishes among young people and adults

Both the young people and the adults expressed many similar wishes and ideas during the discussion rounds: In their view, the car remains a central part of people's lives. Especially in terms of independence, and more so in rural areas. Autonomous vehicles were seen by them as attractive. However, the interviewees expressed that they want to decide for themselves when and where they want to drive or be driven autonomously. The own vehicle should understand the passengers and communicate with them.

Public transport gains in importance

Public transport is particularly important to the respondents. This should be expanded both in the city and in the countryside and should be free of charge. In general, the participants would like the city centres to be car-free. For the most part, they should only be served by autonomous trams, trains and buses and e-taxis. In large cities, a car should no longer be necessary in everyday life. For emergencies and special situations, the respondents suggested cars and shuttles, for example, which could be ordered via app. Drones, on the other hand, deliver packages and medicines.

In general, the study participants advocate the expansion and promotion of the entire infrastructure, and significantly more cycle paths and expressways for cyclists. The pupils mentioned a modified traffic guidance system, traffic over several floors, underground expansion along traffic routes and inductive charging lanes under the road.

The adults in particular introduced the idea of autonomous electric capsules, which can, for example, pass through the city every ten minutes or be ordered via a mobile phone service. These electrocapsules should be able to join together to form larger units and dock onto the train and run on rails for longer distances. They could also run underground.

The respondents also call for more green spaces in the cities and discussed a CO2 tax. The young people in particular were pressing for a change in policy: more money should be invested in research and promotion of e-mobility. They also see the recycling of old batteries as problematic and stressed the importance of working on environmentally friendly batteries for e-vehicles. Electricity should be generated from renewable resources and the development of alternatives to oil and plastics should be promoted.

In general, according to the consensus of many respondents, more attention should be paid to developing sustainable products. Other wishes include intensive research on low-emission aircraft, hydrogen as fuel, magnetic levitation trains, vacuum trains and hypersonic models.

»We want to repeat such surveys at regular intervals. This is the only way we can always obtain an up-to-date picture of the wishes and needs of the population,« Fritz-Drobeck emphasizes. »In this way, we can also make recommendations to business and industry.«