What's on our Horizon Scanning Radar

Our Horizon Scanning Radar lists in its inner circle all the emerging technologies that we believe could constitute enablers for the delivery of the Rail Technical strategy (RTS). This list is, by nature and by construction, non-exhaustive: it is a living list, extended and updated on a ongoing basis with the new information that we find and the feedback that we receive.

The initial set of emerging technologies on our Radar was constituted from the technologies identified in RSSB’s own knowledge searches, technological developments indicated by RSSB’s Senior R&D meetings, and pre-existing lists compiled by external experts, such as the UK Cabinet office’s Technology and Innovation Futures (2012 and 2017), OECD’s megatrends (2016), MacKinsey Global Institute’s Disruptive technologies (2012), JRC’s Tools for Innovation Monitoring (current website), Policy Exchange (2016).

The emerging technologies radar is central to RSSB’s horizon scanning activities

Identified enabling technologies are mapped unto the 12 RTS capabilities: Running trains closer together, Minimal disruption to train services, Efficient passenger flows through stations and trains, More value from data, Optimum energy use, More space on trains, Services timed to the second, Intelligent trains, Personalised customer experience, Flexible freight, Low-cost railway solutions, Accelerated research, development and technology deployment. 

Enabling technologies are then quickly assessed through the following questions: what is the technology? What is its readiness level? What other industries use it and why? How will it impact rail? What uncertainties/limitations remain? What is the state of current R&D? What should the railway industry do? The information and evidence gathered are compiled in Emerging Technology Assessment briefs, which are available with the links below. 

Our Horizon Scanning Radar also lists outside the circle, the Demographic, Economic, Social, Environmental, Political, Technological (DESEPT) trends and disruptors that are likely to have an impact on the rail industry’s future competitiveness and on transport demand. This list of trends and disruptors, similarly to the list of enabling technologies, has the vocation to be updated on a regular basis. Trends and Disruptors Analysis briefs will be uploaded in the coming months.

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