Public Transportation Reimagined: Electric, Modular and Autonomous

For most people, driving or commuting time is wasted time. People would prefer to go from point A to B as quickly and economically as possible, and get more out of their daily commute. As a result, user demand is shifting towards a “Life in Motion”, with seamless connectivity and more personalized services. Tommaso Gecchelin and Emmanuele Spera explain how electric, self-driving, modular vehicles have the capability to meet the ever-increasing user needs and also solve other challenges faced by the transportation industry.

Underutilization of vehicles and road-space leads to traffic jams, a high cost and travel time, and lack of comfort and services to travelers and commuters. The economic loss – just in the USA – is estimated to be about 700 billion dollars annually.

Moving toward an advanced, smart transportation system

The future of transportation is a road transportation system based on electric modular vehicles that fills the gap between inefficient, personal transport (cars) and uncomfortable and inconvenient public transit networks (buses and commuter trains).

A US-based startup is building an advanced smart transportation system which offers a fleet of very compact, but roomy (up to 10 people per module) electric vehicles. The concept integrates a modularity which will adapt capacity and journey of the vehicles according to the actual passenger demands – collecting and bringing riders to their destination without the need to stop the entire convoy.

The modules are able to physically connect or disconnect each other creating a bus-like walkable open space that allows people and goods to move from one module to another. This unique feature guarantees a huge traffic, price and efficiency optimization both in a human driving scenario and in a self-driving one.

Physical connection of the modules allows for on-demand capacity and service modules to be integrated. A “battery-cartridge-module” is able to perform a hot battery swap in motion, so cities do not need any new infrastructure and virtually unlimited range is assured (an option for inductive charge is also available).

What will the daily commute look like?

This advanced smart transportation system is linked to a smartphone. Irrespective of the place and time, using the app, an individual can call a module. It arrives, picks the person and drops off to the selected destination.
The smart routing system will autonomously drive the vehicles and join together modules, in order to redistribute passengers and optimize occupancy rate. In comparison to single-person vehicles, the concept further cuts down on energy consumption and traffic footprint. During the commute, individuals can call for service modules such as bar, shop, toilet, restaurants etc. which directly join the module an individual is in – all this happens while in motion and without any stops.


This system provides convenience and comfort in comparison to traditional public transportation networks, improves overall traffic fluidity and commute time, and decreases running costs and pollution. The concept is designed to be used as either a versatile personal car in a swarm, or by a public transit agency. This type What do you think of this concept? Do you think such systems will enhance your daily commuting experience? Share your opinions in the comment section

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.