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How global transport is getting greener, safer, and smarter

The future of mobility lies in a connected ecosystem that combines tech advancements across road, sea, rail, and air.

How global transport is getting greener, safer, and smarter
[Source photo: Artur Debat/Getty Images]

The global transport industry is always evolving. A decade ago, there was a big appetite for autonomous vehicles and cloud computing. These days, the industry is driven by a dual focus on decarbonization and automation across all layers of mobility—road, sea, rail, and air.

On the decarbonization front, the broader transportation sector certainly has its work cut out for it. The marine transportation industry, for one, has been under intense scrutiny for its high pollution levels. The nonprofit Our Shared Seas found emissions from the maritime shipping sector are up to one billion tonnes of GHGs every year—the equivalent of an industrialized country like Germany or Japan. For context, that’s about 3% of total global emissions. Left unchecked, this will grow to 130% by 2050, per Our Shared Seas. The aviation industry faces a similar challenge in decarbonization due to the limitations of battery technology for long-haul flights.

Now, some good news: Gartner predicts that by 2025, “20% of all new vehicles sold will be electric,” and indeed we are now at the cusp of a massive move to not just make the entire global transport industry greener, but also smarter and safer.


Road transportation is seeing several innovations, as the quest to build smarter, safer, and more environmentally friendly vehicles grows stronger. Major regulatory shifts from governing bodies in the U.S. and  EU are redefining vehicle-safety standards, mandating that vehicles have built-in driver-distraction-monitoring systems that can detect drowsiness, child presence, driver impairment, and more.

Some companies are responding to these regulations with cutting-edge innovations that enhance driver monitoring and detection. Although legacy automakers like Ford, Toyota, Nissan, and Tesla didn’t join CES 2024, software-defined autotech products for vehicle safety from leading companies like CipiaMobileye, and Smart Eye were some of the major products that headlined the show, spotlighting the race to a smarter and safer future for road transportation.

However, the transition to EVs is not without its challenges. Building a robust charging infrastructure is crucial for widespread adoption, as McKinsey notes in its report on how battery makers can respond to surging demand from EVs. Additionally, ensuring the responsible sourcing and disposal of battery materials is critical for the long-term sustainability of this technology.

Cipia, a publicly traded Israel-based computer-vision AI company, is helping to build toward safer mobility experiences for road transportation. The company, which uses computer-vision AI for driver and in-cabin sensing, helps “to make cars better understand, cater to, and predict people’s needs,” says Yehuda Holtzman, CEO at Cipia Vision, addomg that the company’s driver monitoring and in-cabin solutions are getting ready for a new era of driving where autonomy meets safety.

For Holtzman, the future of road transportation is a combination of smarter and safer vehicular mobility. And he believes the technologies that will enable that future  are already here and getting better by the minute. “As the industry continues to evolve, we will see more iterations and newer innovations in the journey toward making road transportation safer and more enjoyable. Cipia’s technology is poised to be a key player in this transformative journey toward safer, smarter roads,” he notes.

Other experts agree with Holtzman, with a report by McKinsey noting that we’ll see “a mobility ecosystem that is more intelligent, seamless, and environmentally friendly” within the next decade.


Storms of pollution continue to rage on the high seas. Per a report from Sinay on the state of the global transport sector, “Shipping claims the third position in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, comprising 11% of the total, trailing closely behind passenger vehicles at 39%, and medium to heavy trucks at 23%.” The report further said that, if proactive measures are not taken, the maritime sector’s carbon footprint will potentially rise by 50% to 250% by the year 2050.

But some companies are combating this challenge head on. One such company is Swedish manufacturer and Volvo subsidiary, Volvo Penta. A few months ago at CES 2024, the company launched a new inboard performance system (IPS) professional platform, describing it as “the industry’s most advanced technology and propulsion platform for commercial marine vessels and super yachts,” adding that the system could deliver about 30% fuel efficiency and cut down on emissions.

Johan Inden, president of marine business at Volvo Penta, tells Fast Company that the IPS professional platform heralds a new era of sustainability and efficiency, offering tangible benefits for commercial and recreational vessels.

“By embracing hybrid and electric solutions, Volvo Penta aims to spearhead the decarbonization of the marine industry, driving positive change on a global scale,” he says.

Volvo Penta’s IPS professional platform combines an advanced propeller architecture and intelligent power-drive system to power its eco-mode feature—an intelligent solution that automatically manages vessel propulsion in real time and optimizes fuel consumption and engine-running hours.


While the aviation industry faces a major sustainability challenge, advancements in biofuels and sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) offer a promising path forward (biofuels are derived from renewable sources like plant oils and waste materials, while SAFs are synthetic fuels with similar properties to traditional jet fuel but with a lower carbon footprint).

Electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems are also being explored for shorter regional flights. Although these technologies are still in their early stages of development, they are poised to elevate the future of sustainable air travel.

Air traffic management systems are also undergoing modernization to optimize flight paths and reduce fuel consumption. These advancements, added to the implementation of new airspace design concepts, can significantly reduce emissions from the aviation sector, as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) explains in detail.


The future of mobility lies in a connected ecosystem that combines tech advancements across road, sea, rail, and air. Imagine a world where efficient electric vehicles seamlessly connect with autonomous public transportation systems, supplemented by a network of micromobility options for short trips. A world where cleaner ships powered by alternative fuels navigate optimized routes, minimizing environmental impact and intelligent port automation systems, further streamline logistics and reduce congestion.

As some experts already note, air travel will become more sustainable with a combination of biofuels, electric and hybrid-electric regional aircrafts, and optimized air traffic management. Data analytics will also play a crucial role in optimizing traffic flow across all modes of transportation, further reducing emissions and improving efficiency.

The journey toward a decarbonized transport sector will be a long one, requiring continued investment in research and development, collaboration between governments and industries, and a shift in consumer behavior toward sustainable travel options. But the potential benefits are significant: A cleaner planet, a more efficient transport system, and a healthier future for all.

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