Can the Physical Internet Pave the Way to a Mobility of Entities?

Sandra Stein, Matthias Prandtstetter (Speaker)

Research output: Chapter in Book or Conference ProceedingsConference Proceedings with Oral Presentationpeer-review


Despite using the same infrastructure, passenger and goods transport are typically perceived as
distinct systems and are managed, analyzed, and considered separated from each other,
particularly in urban areas. Hence, one of the key approaches of a more efficient and sustainable
transportation system is the integration of freight and passenger transport.
In future, the network of mobility systems will be able to orchestrate itself. The IoT network
will allow a seamless connection between various transport-related IoT-devices, transport
modes, transport means, infrastructure, flows, and information. Assuming this and considering
the principles of the Physical Internet (PI) of “physical, digital and operational interconnectivity
through encapsulation, interfaces and protocols” (cf. Montreuil et al. 2013), it should not matter
if encapsulated goods, or encapsulated passengers are moving. Passenger and freight transport
could be orchestrated synergistically if technology was ready and used for a holistic
optimization of the system. The concept of the PI could be transferred to individual mobility,
and thus evolve to a “Mobility of Entities”. Entities are, in that case, understood as objects, or
modules, that either move goods or passengers.
Our vision assumes that passengers and goods are encapsulated and move within the same
transport system. The capsule, the “PI-box” is, in that case, an autonomous transport module,
or unit. Each unit can join and detach with other units – together, they function as a swarm of
vehicles. In such units, either passengers or goods can be transported. Hence, the units have
physical and digital interfaces, and protocols.
This paper aims at introducing the vision of a “Mobility of Entities” via modular transport units
- an integrated freight and passenger transport system.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIPIC 2023 Conference papers and posters Contributions
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2023
EventInternational Physical Internet Conference IPIC 2023 - Athens, Greece
Duration: 13 Jun 202315 Jun 2023


ConferenceInternational Physical Internet Conference IPIC 2023
Abbreviated titleIPIC 2023
Internet address

Research Field

  • Integrated Transport Optimisation


  • Physical Internet
  • Mobility as a Service


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