How do authorities in Europe face disruptive technologies?

Users travel with one payment via a simple app through half of Europe, while others are being driven by their autonomous car or shot with 1000km/h through a vacuum metal tube. Futuristic mobility scenarios such as “Mobility as a Service”, autonomous vehicles, or the Hyperloop are in their infancy, while policy-makers are dealing with very real challenges such as congestion in urban areas.

Disruptive technologies are turning to reality in Europe and the GECKO project is assessing them in several case studies. This research will be the basis for future policy recommendations that will be addressed by GECKO to the European Commission.

Preliminary results show that EU Member States are finding legislative coping mechanisms to integrate disruptive technologies into their legislation. The Hyperloop and “Mobility as a Service” (MaaS) represent different examples of how European Member States have faced disruptive technologies:

  • Hyperloop is a magnetically levitated passenger train, which can reach speeds of several hundreds of kilometres per hour. In Spain, governments from all administrative levels are cooperating to build a first 2km-long Hyperloop test track for research purposes in the region of Valencia. A long process of tests, safety certifications and issuing of permits lies ahead before high-speed commute can become a mode of transport for European citizens.
  • MaaS: The Finnish authorities recently passed a legislation aiming at providing users with better transport services and increasing their choice in the transport market. This new legislation will significantly help providers of “mobility as a service” (MaaS) solutions, as transport operators will have to ensure that essential, up-to-date data of their services is freely available. This data in the “open interface” can be used by MaaS providers to integrate more means of transport into their application.

The group of researchers from GECKO drew a first conclusion: many EU countries are in a transitional period, characterised by a  strong use of soft law tools. The project highlights the need for a European framework on regulation of these disruptive innovations related to mobility – an opportunity for policy recommendations from GECKO.

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