The future of mobility isn’t a destination, more a continuum. There won’t be a singular destination for this journey. Think of it as a bustling convergence of eclectic technologies that will deliver broad and deep expertise areas. Some might even surprise you.

The future of mobility aims to be accessible, green, efficient, integrated, tech-enabled, and smart. But, the journey there could disrupt how we plan our cities, legacy industries and the skills our future workforce will need.

It won’t look the same across every city, country, or context. Timelines won’t necessarily match. It will involve much planning, strategising, leveraging, piloting, tweaking, checking what others are doing, then more trialling and evaluating. Best practices and templates won’t work everywhere though. It’s about fitting transport infrastructure and services to local contexts.

New technologies and new ways of thinking about transport

The work has already begun, but aspects of our transportation infrastructure are still playing catchup. After all, Australia still has three different rail gauges. The reasons are historical and complicated. But hindrances such as this may not be a problem thanks to technology and new ways of thinking.

This article curates insights from the treasure trove of content we’ve published over several years, plus other authoritative sources. We’ve published on Mobility as a Service (MaaS), parking management, share vehicles, urban mobility, smart mobility, community transport, transport equity, micromobility, active transport, and more. Here, you’ll learn the highlights of the future of mobility through the lenses of technologies, trends, impacts, and Australia’s role in global disruption in this sector.

Could you or someone you know have a role in the future of mobility? You’ll also find out about the skills, attributes, competencies, and knowledge future workers will need for this sector.

Transport improvements through mobility technologies

Future mobility technologies are part of smart mobility approaches that combine infrastructure, technology, and travellers’ needs. Smart mobility ticks the boxes for:

  • Efficiency – reduces travel time by two-thirds
  • Fewer accidents (down 22%)
  • Saving on fuel (11 per cent less thirsty)
  • Smoothing mobility demand at peak hours
  • Better managing road capacity resulting in optimised freight transport
  • Flexibility
  • Better integration with all elements of transport, and
  • Is environmentally friendly

iMOVE, Department of Transport and Main Roads (Queensland), and QUT put an autonomous car on Queensland streets

ZOE2, is a Renault Zoe electric vehicle, modified with technology that takes the car up to a SAE Level 4 automated vehicle capability. It has trialled on the Mount Cotton test track, and also on the streets of Ipswich, Bundaberg, and Mt Isa, with members of the public taking the opportunity to take a ride in the car.

Read more about the project, its road safety aspects, experience of the public taking a ride in ZOE2, and more at Safely deploying automated vehicles on Australian roads.

Shared mobility

Shared mobility means sharing vehicles with other people at the same time or in turn. This approach harnesses technological developments and innovation to shift our reliance on private vehicles and fossil fuels.

Consider that 1.3 billion vehicles – many privately owned – are in use across the globe, according to a McKinsey report on mobility. Private cars comprise almost half of all trips. Smarter mobility of the future means building higher density housing so more people can live near the city centre, but limit access to on and off-street parking.

Shared autonomous cars, shuttles and other vehicles are also part of the picture – they’ll go where they’re needed, rather than sit idle as privately owned cars do, for much of the time.

While people tend to associate technologies such as fully autonomous vehicles with future mobility, that’s only a small part of this sector. Any new technologies, and indeed any advances in smart mobility, will need access to a strong, trained workforce. iMOVE looked at Australia’s digital skills gaps and challenges in the transport and mobility sector, and made recommendations, in a recent project. The final report for the project is available at Creating our future transport and mobility workforce.

Internet of Things (IoT): Sensors, cloud computing, and data sharing

Big gains in transport can be generated by the deployment and connection of small devices. Sensors and cameras, vehicles that communicate with infrastructure, and vice versa.

And ideally of the data from these sources can be uploaded, and shared amongst different, possibly competing, entities. If the data is hoarded by one entity, then the possible benefits are strongly limited.

These data collectors can be a boon in the areas of:

  • Traffic management (and Intelligent Transport Systems)
  • Traffic flow/volume forecast
  • Traffic conditions forecast
  • Asset management (vehicles and infrastructure)
  • Freight tracking
  • Logistics (tracking of deliveries)
  • Parking management
  • Travel planning
  • Public transport real-time information
  • Public transport operations planning
  • Smart ticketing
  • Disruption alerts/incident detection
  • Pollution detection
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • MaaS

Mobility as a Service (MaaS)

Let’s shift the focus from vehicle type to seeing Mobility as a Service (MaaS). You’ll increasingly come across that acronym in the future. Ideally, MaaS will allow you to use an app or a digital platform to easily plan your travel from A to B, or add detours, using as many or few transport modes as you choose. You could even opt for the quickest, easiest, least stressful route. Or the one that’s the most scenic. That’s multimodal transport at play. The app, Jelbi, which operates in Berlin, can do this now and shows public transport and sharing services.

MaaS is customer-centric, so you’ll be able to use that one app to book, pay, and track your journey on the go. The idea is to pay per trip or subscribe weekly or monthly. The downside is having to share your data, so the app can update you about changes, bottlenecks, etc.

Australia doesn’t have any full-service MaaS yet. But when it’s in full force, it will include all transport modes. That includes train, bus, ferry, tram, light rail, ride/bike sharing, car hire, taxi, on-demand public transport, e-scooter, rickshaw, Segway, watercraft, or simply walking. iMOVE did run a MaaS trial project in Sydney. Find out more about the trial, its findings and recommendations at Sydney MaaS trial: Design, implementation, lessons, the future. Additionally, we’re trialling MaaS in south-east Queensland, in the ODIN PASS MaaS project.

Meanwhile, University of Sydney researchers have suggested a segue from MaaS to MaaF (Mobility as a Feature). They see the private sector ‘driving’ a financially sustainable and wider activity mix, of which transport is just one part. The researchers argue for a shift because MaaS products have yet to change consumers’ travel behaviour and don’t effectively include private cars in the mix.

ODIN PASS MaaS trial in Brisbane

The ODIN PASS MaaS trial is taking place in Brisbane, in and around the St Lucia campus of the University of Queensland. Beginning in late-2021, as at May 2023 it has reached the milestone of having provided 1 million public transport trips. “With 51 per cent of participants saying they were more likely to use public transport, and 54 per cent deciding to leave their car at home, MaaS has the potential to dramatically change the way Queenslanders access public transport services.”

Read more about the project at: ODIN PASS: A Mobility as Service trial at UQ

Autonomous vehicles

Autonomous vehicles have combine technologies to allow them to operate without a human driver. They’re also known as self-driving or driverless cars. The Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE International) calls them ‘vehicles with automated driving systems’. That’s more precise because there are six levels of autonomy. Zero is for no automation, even if there are warning or intervention systems. Level five is full automation which allows the driverless technology to perform all aspects of the dynamic driver tasks in road and environmental conditions.

Proponents of autonomous vehicles say autonomous vehicles will:

  • Improve logistics, so deliveries will be faster. In fact businesses and freight time cost savings have been estimated at more than $700 billion just for Australia
  • Result in fewer crashes, particularly involving heavy vehicles, because human driver fatigue won’t be an issue. The figures stack up: we’ll save $152 billion in crash costs and 8,000 lives will be spared
  • Help minimise traffic congestion due to fewer people expected to own cars and less humans ‘causing’ stop-start traffic
  • Reduce fossil fuel use (estimated $10 billion), thus minimising greenhouse gas emissions

Currently, 94% of crashes are due to driver error. However, taking humans out of the driver’s seat isn’t just an easy fix. The algorithms controlling the car were written by humans. Researchers say autonomous vehicles won’t be safer that human drivers at the wheel if consumers, society and businesses pressure designers and programmers to prioritise convenience and speed rather than safety.

What’s tricky ethically is how an autonomous vehicle is programmed to and ‘co-learns’ from other like vehicles. For instance, how do you feed it algorithms to decide to swerve away from a pedestrian and hit another; or hit a kangaroo rather than an endangered native animal?

Safety issues such as these have resulted in some consumer protests. A recent article shows anti-autonomous vehicle protesters able to immobilise such a vehicle by simply placing a traffic cone gently on its bonnet. Another issue is around privacy and cybersecurity of the data these highly connected cars gather, store and share. So, policymakers, regulators and governments have their work cut out for them to ensure automated vehicle safety. Here’s the National Transport Commission’s guidelines for trials of automated vehicles.

The role of drones

Drones, also known as uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAV), are expected to go well beyond the current popular novelty use for pizza and coffee deliveries. There’s also been a lot of development into building and testing UAVs that can transport people.
UAVs can be rotary or fixed wing, but how they take off and fly is how they’re categorised. The five categories are: multi-rotor helicopter, single-rotor helicopter, aeroplane, powered lift, or airship. Drones can be remotely and automatically piloted, but in the future may be flown autonomously.

Australia has a role to play in the development of UAV use. As part of the Asia-Pacific drone market, we’re expected to enjoy the world’s highest drone uptake. Already, the site of Google’s drone division, Wing, in Logan, near Brisbane, has been dubbed the ‘drone delivery capital’. That’s because what’s happening there is helping shape drone usage around the globe.

Drones are expected to create 5,500 full-time jobs on average annually in the two decades to 2040 just in Australia, says Deloitte Access Economics. The big winners for this growth are, in order, Western Australia, Brisbane, the rest of Queensland, the rest of NSW, then Sydney.

UAVs offer opportunities for the future of mobility. These include:

  • e-commerce
  • traffic monitoring
  • disaster response
  • Agriculture and environmental management
  • logistics, freight and last-mile delivery
  • medical equipment and pharmaceutical dispatches
  • recreation
  • entertainment
  • construction, and
  • passenger transportation

Advanced air mobility (AAM) is the name for crewed and uncrewed types of aircraft that transport passengers and larger freight. They include multi-rotor, tilt-wing, tilt-rotor and powered wing. Typically, these types have short take-off and landing capability and do so vertically. AAMs are classified as urban, for short-to-medium-range, such as within a city, or regional, between cities, though they’re also useful for remote areas.

Passengers could use drones for airport shuttles and air taxis in urban areas. Each one would seat up to five people. If you had 4,000 of these aircrafts, they could ferry about 82,000 passengers each day in the US, research has shown. Germany, the UK, France, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates are making the most headway in this space. Meanwhile, a South Korean drone maker has completed a trial of an electrically powered air taxi travelling up to 80 km with one passenger.

As promising as those applications sound, technical and regulatory problems, and barriers are snagging drone use for parcel and passenger transport, a recent academic article, Drones for parcel and passenger transportation: A literature review, has found.

For more on the current state of drone use, and for what’s ahead, see The future of drones in Australia.

Drones: Delivering medicine to remote Northern Territory


The transportation of time-critical medical items absorbs a substantial portion of the Northern Territory healthcare budget. An aging demographic in the remote-living Aboriginal population of the Northern Territory will see costs continue to rise if a business-as-usual scenario is cntinued.

iMOVE’s Integrating drones into NT Health project will develop local capacity to integrate autonomous drone aircraft into the health care supply chain to remote communities in the Northern Territory, eliminating serious limitations and cost for healthcare in this remote region.

Mobility trends: Declining versus increasing


  • Private car use, though they will still be the most popular transportation option by 2035 (McKinsey says the percentage will drop from 45% in 2022 to 29%).
  • Private car ownership, but not yet, some say. Sales will supposedly peak by 2030, but could fall in the next five years after that. However, even that is contested, with others saying ‘peak car’ happened in all major Australian cities in 2004.


  • Use of hybrid or electric vehicles
  • Trials of autonomous vehicles including passenger cars, truck fleets, and shared shuttle services
  • Micromobility transport, such as e-bikes and e-scooters
  • Social rather than physical dimensions of urban mobility. This includes shared mobility.
  • Redesign of roads for all transport modes to share rather than focusing on vehicles.
  • Expanding transportation capacity, such as by using sensors and monitoring technology to use existing assets more efficiently.
  • Better understanding of how to manage demand for travel that optimises existing assets and improves their reliability and resilience.
  • Focus on accessibility and travel-time reliability rather than mobility and minimising travel times.
  • Travel also as a valued activity rather than as a derived demand.
  • Demand for improved travel experience.
  • User pay models rather than petrol taxes and vehicle registration fees.
  • Consumers seeking more sustainable options – brands, products, and services.
  • Government regulation around reducing carbon emissions, such as from vehicles
  • Vehicle subscription models – reframed as somewhere between owning and leasing, with Australian start-ups such as Carbar as well as vehicle manufacturers leading this charge.

While there’s a focus on sharing rides, the future of mobility technology can be a double-edged sword. For example, there’s a trend for car manufacturers to charge for in-car features we’ve come to expect would be included. This is a watch-and-see space to see how widespread micro subscriptions for in-car features become.

Sources: The big picture: Worldwide mobility in 2035 and Disrupting urban mobility: Trends transforming the future

Impact of future mobility on different transport sectors


Vehicles have a major role in the global disruption of mobility. The OECD says there are 14 subsectors making up the automotive ecosystem. The sector is undergoing evolution in connected, automated, shared, and electric vehicles. And to a lesser extent, robotisation of production and urban mobility.

On the supply side, the main trends are impacts such as higher investment, new competitors, the role of data, new suppliers and materials, dealers, and aftermarket.

Meanwhile, on the demand side, you’ll see impacts in mobility as a service and segmented markets.

Transport sectors

Digitalisation and automation are forecast to have a 55% to 99% chance of automating at least 18 transport-related occupations, including:

  • Cargo and freight agents
  • Shipping and receiving clerks
  • Industrial and heavy truck drivers
  • Light truck and delivery drivers
  • Bus drivers
  • Transport distribution managers; and
  • Commercial pilots.

Vehicle automation will impact 338,400 truck driver and 74,500 delivery driver jobs in Australia. For more on the future of transport sector staff, see Creating our future transport and mobility workforce.

Australia vs global disruptors and implications

Disruptive technologies include IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), shared mobility, cloud computing, connected and automated vehicles, urban air mobility, and drones. These impact transport efficiency, safety and security, the environment, and climate change. They also have socio-economic factors.

The focus of mobility disruption has been on urban centres. The aim is to create smart, healthy, and low-carbon future cities. Here’s what Swinburne University of Technology Professor Hussein Dia says will disrupt urban mobility this decade:

  • Self-driving vehicles
  • The sharing economy
  • Vehicle electrification
  • Mobile computing
  • The Internet of Things (IoT); and
  • Blockchain technologies

If Australia has up to 50% electric vehicle uptake by 2030, net employment will increase by 13,400 compared to 2016-17, says PwC and the Electric Vehicle Council of Australia.


We’ve mentioned drones as having a role to play in the future of mobility. However, they can be at risk of cyber breaches. IT security company Kapersky says hackers could take control of drones, even download images or video from the drone’s broadcast stream to base station. GPS spoofing, feeding false GPS co-ordinates, is one approach. As in many things IT, actions and solutions such as a virtual private network, strong password and regular updating of the drone’s firmware can help protect the technology.

At the time iMOVE was preparing this article, a technical glitch resulted in 350 drones performing a light show for the Matildas’ women’s soccer game plunging into Melbourne’s Yarra River. Apart from the possibility of a cybersecurity issue, there were also fears of lithium battery pollution leaching into the river.

Where the jobs are: Skills and careers

Autonomous vehicles and MaaS solutions will work seamlessly in the future, freeing up humans from having to drive. Instead, we could spend that time on other work, leisure, customer-service focused tasks, or boosting safety through remote monitoring and interventions.

However, the skills shortage is a major barrier. If you look at just the automotive sector, its inability to attract talent now is globally the most significant hurdle to transformation. That’s according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023.

Recent iMOVE research conducted with Swinburne University of Technology and the federal government have identified knowledge gaps and training needs for the future of mobility. They include:

  • Automation systems
  • Simulation and modelling tools
  • Internet of Things solutions
  • Cybersecurity
  • Cloud technologies
  • Augmented and virtual reality
  • Information and communication
  • Cooperative systems and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) interfaces
  • Data analytics and informatics

A strong theme is computer programming, transport operations analysis, technology design, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Human skills in demand include critical thinking, speaking, active listening, decision making, complex problem solving and social perceptiveness.

Future mobility careers

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in this area of transport, our interview series Meet Smart Mobility Experts could help guide you.

In this series we interview a number of researchers, practitioners, department of transport executives and more. Amongst other things we cover their academic background, research activity, career progression, and more.

The future of mobility is you

So, that’s our deep dive into the future of mobility. Be sure to bring your voice to the table about your needs and wants for the future of mobility. We’re all a player in the look, feel, and implementation of future transport.

Future mobility resources

Here’s a selection of Australian strategy, policy, and project documents on the topic of future mobility.

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Contact iMOVE

iMOVE’s mission is to advance the development and adoption of technologies that will improve Australia’s transport systems, through high impact R&D collaborations.

There’s still a lot of work to be done to make Australian transport systems better, more efficient, safer, and more inclusive. If you’d like to talk to us about any R&D work in the area of future mobility please get in touch with us to start a discussion.

iMOVE future mobility projects

iMOVE, along with its partners, is active in carrying out R&D to integrate smart mobility into Australian transport.

Please find below the three latest smart mobility projects. Or click to view all iMOVE’s future mobility projects.


iMOVE future mobility PhD projects

In addition to iMOVE and its partners’ smart mobility projects listed above, as part of our Industry PhD Program businesses, universities and PhD students work on an agreed topic over a three-year period.

These are the three most recent PhD projects that have been undertaken on the topic of smart mobility. Click to view all iMOVE’s future mobility PhD projects.


iMOVE future mobility articles

In addition to projects, iMOVE also publishes articles, thoughtpieces, case studies, etc. that cover the many issues and solutions around future mobility.

Below are the three most recent articles. Or click to view all iMOVE’s future mobility articles.