Women in Shared Mobility: Autonomous Vehicle Insights with Greta Cutulenco, Martina Müggler, and Susan Zielinski

Women in Shared Mobility Autonomous Vehicles

This month, we focused on Autonomous Vehicles for our Women in Shared Mobility (WiSM) interview. We had the honour of interviewing three women we respect very much in the shared mobility industry, including Greta Cutulenco, Martina Müggler, and Susan Zielinski. Read on below or watch the video for a recap on their AV insights, and if you missed the previous WiSM on MaaS, you can read it here.

Women in Shared Mobility: Autonomous Vehicle Insights

The Interviewees:

Greta Cutulenco, CEO and Co-Founder of Acerta Analytics Solutions

Greta Greta Cutulenco

How will AVs be introduced into our current transportation offerings?

There is a big push towards autonomous shuttles and trucks, so these are likely to be introduced first. Trucks do a lot of highway driving, which has less variability than city driving. Generally unless cities are made safer for autonomous vehicles to navigate, adoption will suffer.

What is the biggest impact of AVs on mobility and our society?

AVs would disrupt a lot of industries, starting from truck driving, taxis, and then mobility in general. Car ownership is a big factor being questioned with the surge in car sharing and promise of AVs. Altogether, AVs have a huge potential to change how we perceive transportation.

What is the biggest hurdle for AV adoption and how do we overcome it?

City infrastructure and legal implications are the biggest hurdles. The potential for having drivers and pedestrians on the road with AVs, the implications of accidents and the frameworks to deal with litigation are not yet in place. These challenges will have to be overcome before we see mass adoption. Restricted environments or regions where AV driving are allowed are good steps to overcome the challenges by testing out our assumptions and shining light on potential problems early on.

Greta Cutulenco is the CEO and co-founder of Acerta Analytics Solutions. She has years of experience working with automotive OEMs and Tier-1 manufacturers, having worked at Bombardier and at Magna in the area of system testing, health monitoring, and analysis, and at AECL (nuclear) on testing processes and security vulnerability analysis. Her M.Sc research at the University of Waterloo focused on automatic analysis of data for testing and anomaly detection. Connect with Greta here.

Martina Müggler, Head of Mobility Development at PostBus

Passfoto Martina Mueggler Martina Müggler

How will AVs be introduced into our current transportation offerings?

I expect AVs to play an important role in urban transportation as well as first / last mile services in remote areas. Their biggest advantage over traditional public transport will be their flexibility (on-demand offer, no fixed schedules, no fixed routes) as well as their cost (especially if they are shared). For larger distances between cities as well as between agglomerations and centres we will still rely on train or metro lines that can absorb a high demand during peak times. AVs will also play a major role in private transportation as they increase the convenience and comfort of travelling over long distances.

What is the biggest impact of AVs on mobility and our society?

It is difficult to give a clear answer here. It all depends on how AVs will be adopted and the corresponding regulation and policies that will be put in place. On the positive side, AVs have the potential to make streets a safer place and to reduce the amount of accidents and casualties. They increase the efficiency of our mobility system and existing infrastructures. If AVs are used as shared assets, there will be less cars on the streets than today, freeing up space in the cities. Lastly, children and old people will be able to move freely with AVs and benefit from a better mobility offering than today. On the negative side, AVs have the potential to foster urban sprawl, to provoke new security issues (e.g. cyber risks), and to increase the amount of traffic, e.g. if they are not used in shared mode or drive around empty, looking for a parking slot or for new passengers.

What is the biggest hurdle for AV adoption and how do we overcome it?

I currently see four main challenges for AV adoption:

1. Technology
2. Regulation
3. Public acceptance
4. Cost

The most promising way to overcome these hurdles is by testing and piloting AVs, preferably in the public space and by implying a diverse range of stakeholders, e.g. city officials, technology partners, car manufacturers, public transport operators, university and research institutes, politicians, and customers. In addition, we need to collaborate closely across different stakeholders and industries and follow a long-term strategy. Every single step (also the very small ones) is important since there will be no “big bang” in the AV adoption.

Martina Müggler is Head of Mobility Development at PostBus, the leading operator for public bus services in Switzerland. Together with her team, she is responsible for transforming PostBus from a traditional public transport operator into a multimodal mobility provider. In recent years, a lot of new products and projects had been launched under this initiative. Among others, PostBus is now operating the largest bike-sharing system in Switzerland (PubliBike), pioneering self-driving buses in public transport (SmartShuttle), and launched a MaaS platform. Before joining Postbus, Martina worked several years at Swiss national railways SBB. She holds an M.A degree in International Relations and Governance from the University of St Gallen and a M. A. degree in International Management from University College Dublin. Connect with Martina here.

Susan Zielinski, Change Agent for Cities and Mobility

SuePic Sue Zielinski 2

How will AVs be introduced into our current transportation offerings?

LIKELY: In a panoply of ways many of which we can’t yet imagine. AND / OR: In the way a baby sibling is ideally brought into the world and nurtured thereafter. With wisdom and intention and foresight, for all the right reasons. With all the care and preparation imaginable to create the conditions under which its infinite possibilities will result in and multiply the greater good not only of its own life and self, but of its family, its communities, its universe. And with all the care and preparation possible to prevent the conditions under which its infinite possibilities will be squandered or worse, do harm, whether for selfish or power-driven or mercenary motives, whether by intention or unwittingly.

What is the biggest impact of AVs on mobility and our society?

Since the jury is out, what a golden opportunity to focus on what impacts we want AVs to have. What impacts we absolutely don’t want AVs to have. To quote Ursula Franklin, technology simply comes down to “the way do things” (or the way we DECIDE to do things). To quote Molly Ivins (not actually George Bush Jr.): “we are the deciders”. We sometimes forget that.

So far at least, technology doesn’t decide on its own behalf. So then it quickly comes down to: How do we want to live? What do we want for our lives and for the future of our society and our planet and the economy? And therefore in what specific ways can such a specific technology help enable those specific futures? Spurred by this inclusive dialogue, let’s make hay for a better world while the sun still shines. And enlist AVs in the quest where it makes most sense.

What is the biggest hurdle for AV adoption and how do we overcome it?

I hope the biggest hurdles (or perhaps just time delays in the grand scheme of things) will result from a combination of:

• Early on, as many as possible unanticipated developments (on the road and in cyber-space) make themselves known. Developments that raise much larger, more serious questions and realizations and potentialities that need to be addressed but by luck the experimental stages do no harm to people or cities

• Early and rigourous, inclusive, open public dialogue about all aspects of AV’s (not just how sexy they are) and what roles AVs and automation in general might play in the overall transport system.

• Thoughtful development of wise standardized regulation (across countries & continents) based on rigourous testing and evidence-based research over sufficient time periods and in multiple contexts.

How to overcome these hurdles? We do the work noted above. It will save money, make money, save lives, save time, and make cities — and access to them — better for all.

Susan Zielinski is change agent for cities and mobility. She has worked for over 25 years innovating and advancing smart and sustainable mobility systems and the industry and enterprise to supply them. Until recently, she directed SMART (Sustainable Mobility & Accessibility Research & Transformation) at the University of Michigan, and prior to that, she was a Harvard Loeb Fellow focused on New Mobility innovation and leadership. Connect with Susan here.
Autonomous Vehicles are a “sexy” topic in the media right now, and have been for a while, but these insights help us to see that there is much more to consider – both the potential positive and negative impacts of AVs and how we can best steer the progressions towards the former. Interested in our Women in Shared Mobility series? Have a look at all of the interviews here.

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