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Jargon-busting the future of transport

Category: Insight & Vision
Published: 18/04/2016

The future of transport is an exciting topic, but one that everyone is still trying to get their head around. Do you, for example, know your Hyperloop from your Feedback Loop? Your Lidar from your Wearable?

Curiously, while the process of getting from A to B is being streamlined and simplified, the language surrounding this rapid change is not. Here’s a quick jargon buster to help you better understand the future of transport.

Augmented reality (AR)

A real-time feed of computer-generated data that’s overlaid on a user’s view of their environment through glasses, visors, goggles and screens, with inputs ranging from video graphics to GPS data.

Big data

The name given to the huge tranches of information, which can be analysed by transport services to create more streamlined and safer systems, as well as innovators, analysts and technologists to acquire insight that was previous inaccessible.

Car-sharing/car clubs

jargon car shareAn innovative concept giving drivers access to a fleet of cars and vans parked at specific locations around a city. Upon joining a specific network, members can book online or via an app and use a smartcard to unlock the car nearest them, returning the vehicle to its home location once it ‘s been used.

After an initial membership fee, fuel, insurance and a set mileage is covered. Peer-to-peer (P2P) schemes offer vehicles from other individuals nearby, while business alternatives deliver shared employee solutions via a third-party provider.


A transport service that launches on a platform of innovation, similar to one already been identified by another company. Its existence in the same market then leads to increased competition and better consumer value.

Connected car

A vehicle that is connected wirelessly to the internet, allowing it and its passengers – through connected devices – to share and access information from other cars. Information can be used to help improve road safety, as well as enhance the overall experience of a journey.


A method of recording personal travel and payment information where a user briefly holds a pre-paid or debit card, wearable, or mobile device over a terminal to either register fund transfer or an entry/exit.

Digital disruption/disruptive innovation

A business model whereby a digital company finds a totally unique way to unsettle an existing market or service. Usually founded on a flexible supply and demand strategy it can lead to cheaper rates, which undercut the established industry.


Dynamic speed display/driver feedback sign

future of transportA speed limit sign with an embedded radar sensor that warns drivers if they’re exceeding the limit by electronically displaying their speed of approach to the sign.


The act of booking a taxi or other transport for hire, via a computer, smartphone or other connected mobile device.

Electric vehicles (EVs)

A modified car powered by an electric battery rather than an engine. Instead of stopping at a petrol station, the driver navigates to the nearest battery charging post to ‘fill up’. Advances in battery efficiency and an improved network of charging points mean that EVs are now a meaningful alternative for UK motorists, with more than 28,000 sold last year.

Feedback loop

A real-time information stream that can provide users with performance data that they can use to change their behaviours, resulting in greater efficiency, safety and success.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

future of transport GPS

The constellation of satellites, made and maintained by the US government, whose signals are intercepted by a GPS receiver, like those embedded in satnavs and smartphones, to pinpoint its location anywhere on the planet.


A high-speed rail travel concept that transports passengers in pods on a millimetre-thick air cushion through a near-vacuum tube. By eliminating friction it will allow pods in the transport system to reach speeds in excess of 700mph. The project has now been open-sourced to allow other companies to advance the project.


Referring to the in-car system that is the output for audio and vehicle information, and also acts as an interface with external devices, such as the driver’s smartphone.

Intelligent mobility

A catch-all term for the process of optimising the end-to-end journeys of both people and goods, leading to the personalisation of services and forecasts that can predict the best journey to choose before setting out.

Internet of things (IoT)/ Internet of everything/Industrial internet/ Machine to machine technology (M2M)

The ever increasing network of intelligent devices, from washing machines to medical equipment, which have the ability to exchange operational information and data with related devices via the internet and over wireless to streamline everyday activities.

Journey crowdsourcing

The ability to share information on transport congestion, accidents, or essential works between users of a network, via an app that runs on a smartphone or tablet. By crowdsourcing different routes, a real-time map of traffic conditions is created and remains constantly updated, allowing users to avoid problems and increase journey efficiency.



An essential technology fitted to self-driving cars. Roof-mounted, the camera uses multiple lasers to continually map a 360-degree 3D environment around the car, which is then relayed to onboard software. The car’s computer interprets the information, allowing it to navigate safely around any potential hazards, leading to an increase in accident-free motoring.


Streamlining different transport services, public and private, via a single gateway to create and manage individuals and logistics get from one point to another. A single account is all a user needs to tailor make and pay for a journey made up from multiple types of transport. The data gathered on journey patterns within the service is then used to help it become more efficient.

Multimodal/combined transport

The usage of two or more transport types that allow people and freight to make a journey that is effective and efficient.

Near field communication (NFC)

NFC and the future of transportThe technology (usually a small chip) embedded in smart cards and smartphones that drives contactless and tap-and-go services, allowing two devices to share data transactions when held locally.

Open source

Allowing outside interests to cooperate on a concept, believing that they can advance the idea quicker, making it more efficient and error-free.


Ride-sharing is a novel way of getting around in a more environmentally friendly, sociable and cost-effective way. Whether it’s formally or informally organised, it involves two or more commuters sharing a single car ride to either a collective destination or an independent one. Depending on how sophisticated your scheme is, your ride can be accessed, paid for and monitored through your smartphone.

Self-driving cars (aka autonomous cars/driverless cars)

Outfitted with a number of sensors, these cars enable passengers to arrive at a destination without any manual involvement from anyone inside the vehicle. A combination of laser cameras, radar and geo-location allow for continuous driving, from start up to switch off, leaving passengers free to work, make phone calls or even sleep. This is the future of transport.

Sharing economy (aka collaborative consumption/peer economy)

From cars to bikes to homes and even driveways, the sharing economy refers to an emerging ecosystem where individuals or companies provide access to goods and services (it can be free or come with a cost). Online websites and apps are used to connect people.

Smart cities

The term used to describe a population centre, which is either purpose built or retrofitted with a number of sensors and cameras. The data collected is then fed back to a central hub and processed by humans and computers to allow reactive and proactive decisions to be made on a range of urban problems from traffic congestion to air pollution

Smart parking/smart valet

An attempt to reduce congestion in cities and increase an individual’s free time by connecting a driver with a service that sends out a valet on a foot scooter who takes over the parking process for them. When the driver needs their car back, they give their location and pay through a smartphone app for the time the service has been used.

Smart roads

The assimilation of various technologies into the building of a road network to enhance driving and vehicle performance in a range of conditions. Automated highways will include in-built systems to melt snow and ice, charge EVs and even convert solar power into electricity.

Smart ticketing

A new form of pre-paid travel where entitlement is stored electronically on a microchip rather than being printed on a paper ticket allowing users to speed up and personalise their transport experience, while increasing security.

Vehicle platooning

A convoy of HGVs or cars that are wirelessly “coupled” together, allowing a human driver in the lead vehicle to control the entire road train.


Gadgets worn as bracelets, watches, rings and pendants that can enhance the connected self experience. Sensors and accelerometers track different variables and then connect wirelessly to a smartphone app, which calibrates the data and allows the wearer to see their progress and get motivated to achieve a range of goals from diet and fitness to sleep and organisation.

If you feel we’ve missed anything out or would like us to help explain a term not covered, then please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you about what terms you think reflect the future of transport.