Ferruccio Resta * participates in the ITWeek panel on mobility. In the Cathedral, on September 30th at 11:30 am
If only a year ago we had been asked to describe our idea of the mobility of the future, we would have done so with greater optimism. We would have talked about it in a futuristic tone: from the advances in autonomous driving to the Hyperloop experiments, to the promises of hydrogen … But after the silicon and components crisis, the collapse of the energy market and the increase in fuel costs, interest has shifted to the short term, to the emergency. One wonders if we weren’t too confident.
A year in which fast and fluctuating dynamics have contributed to increasing uncertainty and instability, caught between the need to respond to local needs and the need to deal with global dynamics. But it is precisely in moments like this that we must have the courage to stay on course, aware that innovation must be able to continue. I am thinking, for example, of technological innovation that does not stop in other areas of the world, such as the US or China, which are less exposed to the fallout from the conflict in Ukraine. We understand one thing clearly: innovation cannot be governed locally. We need to think on broader dimensions, strengthen a European strategy on key issues, not least that of mobility. There are three guidelines. The first is to increase investment in research and development where possible. I am thinking of propulsion systems, batteries, energy storage, materials, connectivity, data. The second is linked to the development of industrial policies. I am referring to electricity, the energy transition (which must be carefully guided within companies), rail mobility (Europe remains a continent with little soil for high-capacity transport), mass public transport, sharing models (also in view of the great evolution of self-employed), air transport, maintenance, an often underestimated and instead central theme. Our ability to increase the safety of roads, bridges and viaducts is also innovation; to limit interruptions and inefficiencies. Hence the third way, which is that of infrastructures: smart roads and wired railways, 5G connection, smart grids, charging systems …
Three blocks that have the same drivers in common. The first is that of environmental sustainability, which is fundamental not only to respect the conditions in which the planet finds itself, but also useful for defining a clear economic positioning on the part of the EU, which must find its own strategic asset in this area in the medium and long term. Add digital and the developments associated with big data that will allow us to move from “undifferentiated” policies – in which the public and private mobility sectors provided average services, oversized in some cases and insufficient in others – to precision policies. I conclude by recalling the importance of training: mobility will shape the society of the future. We will need trained technicians, capable of glimpsing the change in its complexity.
* Rector of the Polytechnic of Milan