Photo credits: Jason Corey

Disrupting the traffic jam, imagining the cities of tomorrow

Insights from mobility startups as part of our Global Challenge in 100 countries

Hello Tomorrow
Hello Tomorrow Stories
5 min readSep 13, 2017


With corporate giants and unicorns all-in on autonomous vehicles, from cars to trucks and helicopters, a large array of startups all around the world are developing pieces of the puzzle to reach full autonomy, hoping to claim their share of the market. Originating mainly from the US, Japan, the Netherlands and Germany, these startups target very specific segments of the autonomous driving market, from localization technologies to decision algorithms. Many of them are working on improving the shortfalls of Lidar technologies, developing complementary technologies such as 3D ultrasound sensors for collision avoidance or using the road’s granularity for location positioning. Startup AImotive, who will be on stage at the Global Summit, develops low-cost camera-based solutions for autonomous driving that will soon be combined with a GPU of their own design.

AImotive’s autonomous driving technology

This brings us the second biggest trend among mobility startups from this year’s Challenge; startups are finding cleaner, more efficient ways to power vehicles. In the battle of hydrogen vs electric, we see that many more startups are targeting the electric vehicle segment; many applications pitched ideas for innovative batteries, which will be discussed in more depth in the New Materials trends segment. However, rather than developing new engines or batteries, the notable trend is that many startups are focusing on innovative energy harvesting from different sources such as roads via solar roads or kinetic energy harvesting.

Energy Intelligence promises to harvest energy from cars on the road and use it to power our cities

Startup CGON develops an on-demand hydrogen generation technology that promises to optimize the combustion process by drastically reducing emissions and improving fuel efficiency by 25%.

CGON’s additive technology promises to optimize the combustion process by drastically reducing emissions and improve fuel efficiency by 25%.

Truck platooning technologies are also making waves in the mobility world when it comes to efficiency; investors have put $80 million into startup Peleton Technologies who are developing platooning technologies to decrease fuel consumption of cruising trucks (watch the video below). Their CEO, Josh Switkes will be sharing his insights as one of the keynote speakers at the Hello Tomorrow Global Summit.

What is truck platooning?

A third prominent trend finds itself in the public/group transportation market, a key focus for many mobility startups. More specifically, startups are focusing their efforts on buses; electric, 100% solar or autonomous buses just around the corner. Some startups are packaging their solutions as a service via a mobile app to enable better access to transportation in deserted or rural regions. NEXT, a startup from Italy and finalist in our Global Challenge, is offering a new approach to public transportation by transforming buses into modular pods.

Modular bus system developed by NEXT

A further trend sees startups turning their attention to traffic congestion. New combinations of technologies are optimizing traffic fluxes in urban areas as well as for the likes of freight companies. With a cocktail of sensors, cloud platforms and deep-learning algorithms, startups are looking to disrupt the “traffic jam” market. These solutions are rarely holistic, and the projects we’ve identified usually concentrate initially on one piece of the puzzle to be integrated into a larger system. For instance, Parquery, a startup from ETH Zurich solely focused on smart parking solutions to begin with but have rapidly expanded to other sectors using their expertise in deep learning and computer vision. Now they are now developing features such as real-time analysis of mobility flows in an urban environment, real-time passenger counting on-board public transport vehicles, and real-time optimization of freight management operations.

Parquery’s smart parking solution

All of these technological solutions raise important questions about how future innovations will integrate with current mobility systems and their real potential impact, especially on urban mobility. The Hello Tomorrow Global Summit is bringing together a panel made up of Niko Eiden, COO of AIMotive, who find AI solutions for autonomous cars, Vince Meens, Project Leader of Mobotiq, who is developing a p2p blockchain enabled driver-less mobility system and urban mobility specialist for Stockholm City Karin Brundell Freij. These experts will discuss the future of mobility and answer critical questions like ‘Will autonomous vehicles actually reduce traffic in cities?’ ‘Can electric vehicles reduce pollution?’ ‘What is the future of car ownership?’

What is the future of urban Mobility? Expert panel at the Hello Tomorrow Global Summit on October 26th.

In the past it was normal to own a car, or even two cars in large urban areas, but in major cities it’s no longer the case. Over the past decades, multiple studies in the US, UK and France have reported a decrease in car ownership. This shift was made possible through the development of new services enabled by digital technologies, such as car sharing or bike sharing systems, now widespread in many cities around the world. Today, new technological developments and further developments in public transport systems may accelerate the transition towards a no-vehicle ownership model. For instance, the project Mobotiq is in the process of developing is an open-source and blockchain enabled model for autonomous shared pods that could be bought and used by groups of people in a city.

Hear Vince Meens from Mobotiq talk at the Hello Tomorrow Global Summit

References & examples from the Top 500 startups of our Global Challenge.

Discover all of these startups at the Hello Tomorrow Global Summit on October 26–27 in Paris!

Medium readers: Benefit from a 20% discount to attend the event using the code MEDIUM here:



Hello Tomorrow
Hello Tomorrow Stories

Unlocking the power of deep technologies to solve some of the world's toughest challenges.