ULTIMO explores the future of automated mobility at PAVE Europe’s virtual panel

Can automated vehicles (AVs) become a staple in European public transportation by the end of this decade? This question took center stage at the recent PAVE Europe virtual panel, where experts from the ULTIMO project shared exclusive insights from project demos and other initiatives.

Moderated by Guido Di Pasquale, Managing Director at PAVE Europe, the panel brought together esteemed speakers to explore the intersection of regulatory challenges, technology, and business in the realm of AV deployment.

The discussion included the panelists: Christian Willoch, Executive Advisor at Ruter As; Dimitri Konstantas, Professor at the University of Geneva; and Mara Cole, Team Lead Mobility at Bayern Innovativ GmbH and member of the ULTIMO Advisory Board. The guests discussed topics such as the European AV industry’s competitiveness vis-à-vis China and dissected the challenges and opportunities in AV adoption for transport operators.

ULTIMO at PAVE Europe panel

Looking into the technical and logistical challenges of AV deployment, the importance of creating viable automated vehicle services was emphasised. The goal is to establish a service that is accommodating to all, while also considering possible obstacles of legal, economic and technological nature. With projects like ULTIMO aiming to establish large-scale and sustainable AV services, the potential impact of AVs on urban transportation is significant. The guests discussed that ULTIMO aims to go beyond traditional fixed-timetable services by introducing on-demand transportation, with vehicles being optimised according to specific needs. The speakers deemed the deployment of AVs in public transport realistic within the next decade, among others through anticipated widespread commercial availability and policy alignment.

“In the last year of the ULTIMO project (2026), we expect to deploy at least 15 vehicles per site.”

– Dimitri Konstantas, Professor at the University of Geneva

Inclusivity was also highlighted as a core value of AV systems, with a primary focus on improving accessibility and ensuring passenger safety. This stresses the importance of catering to diverse user needs and fostering collaboration among various stakeholders. It is a shared mission to educate and build trust in automated vehicles.

“We want to transform the society towards an even more sustainable freedom of movement for all, that is Ruter’s vision.”

– Christian Willoch, Executive Advisor at Ruter As

Throughout the panel, discussions ranged from Europe’s competitiveness in the AV industry to the feasibility of AV adoption for transport operators. From the regulatory landscape to the potential job implications, the opportunities and challenges of AV integration were explored, offering a look at the road ahead for AVs in European public transportation.

“We want to have a good service for the users so they can rely on the AV system, to then dare to get rid of their cars eventually.”

– Mara Cole, Team Lead Mobility at Bayern Innovativ GmbH, ULTIMO Advisory Board Member

While challenges remain, these insights and the work of projects like ULTIMO provide a roadmap for navigating the complexities of AV deployment. With collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity as guiding principles, the future of public transport in Europe looks promising.

Watch ULTIMO at the PAVE Europe panel