Over the last decade, new mobility service models have redefined the competitive technology landscape of the automotive industry. During this time, the industry has adopted the acronym CASE to describe vehicles of the future: connected, autonomous, shared, and electric.
This framework is typically used to describe trends in automotive innovation. CASE, as it’s known today, is rather a product-centric and asset-centric view of the future of mobility that will likely come to fruition much further down the road.
What does CASE stand for?
Here is a brief summary of what each category of the acronym means.
C - Connected
A connected vehicle can communicate bidirectionally with other systems outside of the car. This allows the vehicle to share data with surrounding devices including cars, homes, offices, or infrastructure. The connectivity in a vehicle enables infotainment, safety, roadside assistance, diagnostics efficiency, navigation, and payments.
The concept of connected vehicles often seems like something in the distant future, but quite a few cars today have internet connectivity. Here’s what some companies have developed recently.
- Waze has rolled out a partnership with ExxonMobil and Shell for contactless fuel payments in their gas stations. When drivers arrive at those stations, a notification in the Waze app will prompt them to securely pay using the fuel partner's contactless payment app (the Exxon Mobil Rewards app or the Shell app).
- Drivers in Austin, Texas can now use Google Pay directly within the Google Maps app to pay for parking. The new feature, part of a partnership with transportation software company Passport, will become available in more states later.
A - Autonomous
An autonomous car is a vehicle capable of sensing its environment and operating without human involvement. Autonomous cars combine a wide variety of sensors to perceive their surroundings such as cameras, radar, lidar, sonar, GPS, and inertial measurement units. The data received from these sensors is used to detect and recognize objects and obstacles on the road. Advanced control systems interpret the sensory information to identify appropriate navigation paths and execute the movement.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International) unveiled a new classification system of vehicle automation. It represents five levels of driving automation that determine how capable a vehicle is of operating on its own without human intervention.
Level 0 - No automation, fully manual control of the vehicle where the human performs all tasks.
Level 1 - Driver assistance exists. The vehicle has a single feature that automates a task, for example cruise control.
Level 2 - There’s now an automated driver assistance system or ADAS. Now the vehicle can perform several tasks while still being monitored by a human driver who can take control at any time.
Level 3 - Conditional automation. The vehicle can perform most of the driving tasks just like the Tesla Autopilot product. Human override is still required.
Level 4 - The level of automation is so high that the vehicle is able to perform all of the driving tasks. Human involvement is optional.
Level 5 or full autonomy - This is the highest level of automation. With no need for human intervention, the vehicle is fully capable to monitor the driving environment and guide itself.
S - Shared
The sharing of transportation services and resources among users, either concurrently or one after another. This includes public transit, micromobility (bike sharing, scooter sharing), car-based modes (carsharing, rides on-demand, and microtransit), and commute-based modes or ridesharing (carpooling). Some examples of mobility sharing services are Lyft, Uber, Bird, Scoop, and Moovit.
E - Electric
An electric vehicle is completely or partially driven by an electric motor. This motor draws its current either from storage batteries or overhead cables. Electric vehicles will likely reduce and eventually eliminate road transport emissions, but their market penetration is still limited and relatively slow due to the factors mentioned above.
Connectivity, Autonomy and Electrification are driving disruption in the industry
Connectivity, Autonomy and Electrification.These three elements are primarily linked with technological advancements. They are infrastructure for the future of mobility.
Big cities are becoming more crowded and the need for alternative models of managing vehicle allocation is growing. In 2009, ridesharing was launched as one of the methods to address this challenge and reinvent traditional transportation. There is still rising controversy in major metropolitan areas related to safety concerns, lack of regulations, uncertain future, and environmental impact. Often, drivers spend long hours cruising around the city waiting for their next rider.
This “Sharing” element has to be reinvented from its core and readapted not only to people’s behavioral changes but also to new cities' infrastructures. Over the past few years shared micromobility services and vehicles have invaded cities providing the benefits of sharing economy to their users while also making people upset about the vehicle distribution and the mess in the streets. Companies like Populus address street and curb management in cities and municipalities and help them communicate new policies as well as provide a tool for micromobility service management. This is an example of how new technology can shape the future of transportation, cities and sharing of our space.
Who benefits from the sharing economy?
Companies worldwide are reinventing ways of moving goods and people in a shared manner. Uber is the world's largest ride-hailing app, yet it doesn't own any cars. They built a platform that digitally connects passengers with drivers. Even though they are an extremely successful company, they are still losing money each year (see the graph below). Shortly after Uber sold its autonomous car project to Aurora, the self-driving car startup, Uber started a new, ambitious and money-intensive effort to build flying cars as means of providing another potentially more attainable or profitable revenue stream.
A similar situation is happening with other competitors of theirs that moved into this space. While the value proposition is there and the customers are able to benefit from the sharing economy, the economics are still in the development stages.
CASE for New Era of Mobility Innovation
Companies in the automotive and mobility space using the CASE framework have run into problems related to cost, accessibility, safety, and environment. A new framework is needed that is better suited to depict the improvements to mobility and real estate - two interrelated areas of modern cities. The definition of CASE should be revisited to focus on matters that could truly serve mankind in the short run and also go hand-in-hand with the vision of real estate in the future as the real estate market has been focusing on more attainable goals for several years now.
C - Cost-Effective
Recall the Uber example above about how some of the existing solutions still need work before becoming profitable. Transportation systems need a way to increase their capacity and reduce costs.
- Economies of scale apply to moving people around. Larger amounts of people being transported means lower unit cost. Individual daily travel choices often might not be the most efficient ones not only from a cost perspective but also in terms of impact on the environment. Building transportation systems that are streamlined and cost-efficient will shift the paradigm and encourage the use of mass transit. An additional point to be addressed is the health aspect of users especially now during the global pandemic.
- Cost-effective approaches are equally as important in real estate, and there have been some successes with deploying tech solutions in this domain already, for example, HVAC management systems and smart, energy-efficient electronics. When it comes to commercial buildings, it is impossible to summarize cost-effectiveness by just a single parameter. Determining true cost-effectiveness requires a life-cycle perspective where all costs and benefits of a given project and real estate property are evaluated and compared over its economic life. This has to do with operating and maintenance costs, energy efficiency, the lifespan of the building, and the productivity and well-being of the people who will be using it.
A - Accessible
The ideal situation in which people would not be required to own a car because of autonomy may take longer to come to fruition than expected. The policy will not allow vehicles to move on their own without a qualified driver or passenger present unless the city has developed designated areas for pickup and drop-off - similar to bus stations. On the other hand, the deployment of robotaxis will not be immediate.
- Focusing on the accessibility of transportation will be important until self-driving cars are widely available. The COVID-19 Pandemic has shown that many cities have outdated public transit networks. Citizens need to be able to get around efficiently and safely. An additional aspect of accessibility is well-organized micromobility systems.
- In real estate, accessibility is equally important. City planners and investors should consider the property’s physical condition and efficiency, its proximity to retail, school district quality, neighborhood development intensity, access to transportation, and residents’ preferred property features when creating property development and investment strategies.
S - Safe
Shared mobility is the element of CASE that might be more well-known as discussed earlier in the article. Many people have chosen not to own a car and a big portion of the younger generation haven’t been getting their driver's licenses.
- Redefining the safety aspect in mobility beyond just reducing car crashes will increase selling points and likeability. Other factors such as biosafety, sustainability, and public safety should be considered. Maximizing the use of automated driving systems to support, augment, and replace human drivers and human contact where appropriate will eventually make our streets less dangerous and congested.
- For buildings, safety has already become one of the main focus areas since the COVID-19 pandemic. Modern buildings are generally considered safe and healthy working environments. There is a growing concern however about the potential of indoor air quality problems, occupational illnesses and injuries, and viruses. These issues should be and gradually have been addressed by architects and facility managers so they can design and maintain buildings in a way that ensures the occupants' safety and health.
E - Environmentally Friendly
Modern transportation is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Cities and the way they are built play a significant role in shaping the choices made each day. This is why new, sustainable solutions like electric and hybrid mass transit vehicles and accessible micromobility solutions are needed.
- The electrification of more vehicles is just one way to reduce pollution and decrease gas emissions. Decisions by policymakers can fundamentally alter the trajectory of the mobility sector and its impact on the planet. With efficiently designed transportation systems and sustainable policies, governments can positively impact people's choices when it comes to choosing their means of transportation.
- In real estate, one of the ongoing trends is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). It is the world’s most widely used environmentally friendly building rating system to evaluate the environmental performance of a building. Buildings that start having sustainability assessments will be a key driver in real estate value. The ongoing population growth and rapid urbanization, bring the necessity for more eco-friendly real estate development. Building owners are already starting to include renewable energy technologies and waste reduction which will help them stand out in the future.
Connectivity, autonomy, electrification, and sharing are not all able to coexist in an economically viable way just yet. There are clear benefits of some of these technologies with successful deployments and partnerships. BlueSpace.ai and LG U+ (autonomy and electrification), Tesla's electric vehicles, charging networks, and over-the-air (OTA) updates (electrification and connectivity) are just a few examples of this.
The CASE automotive companies and their proposed framework doesn't solve all society's problems in the short term. Hopefully, it can provide a positive societal impact sooner with the updated CASE 2.0 that focuses on cost efficiency, accessibility, safety, and the environment. All of these elements can be applied to the infrastructure layer that serves as the foundation for mobility as it does for the built environment.
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