Given the speed and timing of Covid, there has been a rapid transformation in the European market for micro-mobility, robotaxis and Smart Cities. Here are some predictions.
Consolidation of the micro-mobility market in Europe
According to recent news and press releases, many of the major micro-mobility operators have invested to support their offerings to consumers, expand their fleets and increase their geographic areas of service.
There are several micro-mobility operators who have not only weathered the financial storm of Covid-19, but have been able to plan and implement growth.
It is clear that this does not concern the smaller operators. Examples like Lime (the only US operator to also support its offer in Europe) are not repeated on a small scale.
The prediction is quickly made at this point. In the coming months we will see an increase in mergers and acquisitions of these micro-mobility operators.
Robotaxi and autonomous deliveries
With Intel's recent acquisition of Moovit, the partnerships announced by Lyft, Amazon's Zoox driverless shuttle, and a high level of activity already in China, we will see continued growth of robotaxis in 2021.
In recent years, the robotaxi and autonomous vehicle market has gone through a hype cycle, peaking in early 2018. Since that time, many operators, suppliers, startups and investors have been scratching their heads wondering what will happen next.
With the advent of COVID-19, social distancing and public health measures, new use cases for autonomous vehicles and robotaxis (and their opportunities) have rapidly emerged throughout 2020. The vehicle market shared and commercial autonomous vehicles has now eclipsed that of personal autonomous vehicles. The pivot has moved completely towards robotaxi e driverless truck.
This trend will continue, indeed will see a rapid acceleration in investments, pilot projects and business partnerships over the next year. Furthermore, with widespread lockdowns, quarantines and curfews, the market for outdoor dining and food delivery has exploded. This is why we will see interesting value propositions from artificial intelligence and micromobility technology startups continue in 2021.
We will see hypotheses of use of robotaxis related to deliveries (both assisted by people and autonomous) of parcels, mail and even food to homes and companies.
City in 15 minutes and active transport
Finally, the most important trend and forecast for next year in 2021 is the widespread adoption by governments of policies related to "15 Minutes Cities". A study initially started in Paris, now leads (due to Covid) to the expansion of urban bicycle networks to maintain social distancing and public health, all over the world.
Almost all major cities now have pedestrianized streets, even improvised cycle paths, venues with outdoor ventures and cycling and walking boom. Although these policies have always been supported by urban planners and designers to reduce the impact of cars (the study on superblocks), Covid served as a turning point.
Now pursuing longer-term sustainability initiatives and active investments in transport infrastructure no longer seems difficult, but it is even indispensable.
Despite the resistance of the "old" masters of steam, 2021 will see continuous investments in digital and physical infrastructures to support sustainable urban travel without private cars.