Mobility Lab

Building a better Los Angeles.

The BMW Group’s Mobility Lab in Los Angeles has brought around one hundred scientists, visionaries and decision-makers together to make the City of Angels more agile and improve the quality of life there.

How can public space in an urban centre like Los Angeles be used more efficiently? Which incentives should be put in place to further increase the number of electric vehicles on the streets of Californian cities? And how can we better integrate different modes of transport to make switching between them more convenient, for example by coordinating public transport and vehicles that are available on call? Local authorities, scientists, companies and citizens cannot answer all these questions themselves. They need to come together to discuss these matters and act accordingly so that the decision-makers in our urban centres can quickly put the right measures in place.

This was the motivation for the BMW Group to set up its Mobility Lab. Earlier this year around 100 innovators, scientists and city representatives and a large number of other movers and shakers met in Los Angeles to exchange their ideas and develop new visions in this day-long thinking and discussion lab. “Up to now, most traffic routes are designed for cars, but they should be available, above all, for people”, explains Lisa Errion Saums, Vice President of Government and External Affairs for the BMW Group’s Americas Region. “Mobility and quality of life in urban spaces must not rule each other out. We want to find the required solutions”, said Errion Saums at the start of the event. And she pointed out: “The BMW Group is committed to sustainability and it wants to be a pioneer in this field.” However, listening was an important part of achieving these goals and the Mobility Lab was creating the ideal conditions for this.

A total of four workshops was thus held, taking very different approaches towards tackling the issue and looking at mobility from the perspective of local public transport, electric mobility, the scarce resource of urban space and urban autonomous driving. Topics that were discussed included how the gap between travelling by private cars and public transport can be bridged by innovative vehicle and mobility concepts. Or how efficient and socially compatible road tolls or congestion charges would be in Los Angeles. Concepts for interlinking the different modes of transport better and coming up with smarter systems for finding parking spaces were also discussed.

The participants were convinced, for example, that offering a broader range of mobility services and introducing innovative control systems would have a positive impact on city development. In particular since the next step towards highly automated driving in urban areas, which was also the subject of intense discussions, is currently coming up against far more obstacles than most experts had anticipated only a few years ago. Therefore, it will be some time yet before the citizens of Los Angeles can avail of completely autonomous driving options that bring people from one place to the next on demand.