Smart Transport

Connectivity is the key to early wins in connected and automated mobility

Shaping the environment in which connected vehicles operate is essential if society is to obtain the huge benefits they might bring, says Daniel Ruiz, CEO of Zenzic.

There are those who assume autonomous vehicles will soon be able to function safely, independently and efficiently, irrespective of the environment they are in.

This is clearly not the case. 

Connected and automated mobility (CAM) can deliver substantial social and economic benefits.

Estimates include 3,900 lives saved, 420,000 jobs created and £62 billion per year added to the economy by 2030.

These benefits come from increases in safety, inclusion, productivity and environmental benefits.

These objectives will only be achieved if we shape the environment in which the technologies can thrive.

This will unlock the social and economic benefits by allowing us to self-supply as a nation, rather than buy these technologies from abroad.

Fundamental to reaching this objective is ensuring connectivity.

The UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030 shows that connectivity will unlock the flow of data, enabling key decisions to be made, and advances ranging from patient care for ambulance services to infotainment for the public.

The future of mobility is more than just self-driving vehicles 

The technologies that are being installed in our cars, buses, and other vehicles are constantly improving their capabilities.

But they are no more than components in a system.

The system delivers the service for consumers but the components have to be integrated and the sophistication of the integrated system is what gives quality of service to individual consumers and to society.

Simply put, cars can’t roam freely around the city if congestion and conflicting rules exist.

The best way to reduce congestion and apply etiquette is to allow for communication between vehicles and infrastructure, indeed everything including people. In transport-speak, this is V2V, V2I, V2X connectivity.

It is true that – theoretically speaking – an omniscient Society of Automation Engineers (SAE) Level 5 vehicle should not be dependent on anything in its environment.

However, we are now fairly comfortable saying that significant deployment of SAE Level 5 vehicles is achievable within the next decade.

Estimates of one-in-five miles being automated by 2030 are not unreasonable.

Moreover, if those miles are in geo-fenced areas (including motorways), or in restricted ‘operating design domains’, I believe this challenging target might be met if we ensure the ecosystem is designed to help itself.

Oxbotica, one of the leading self-driving companies in the UK, has shown that its vehicles can navigate through complex environments with GPS and without V2V (vehicle to vehicle) or V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) communications.

Their system is highly regarded and among the global leaders in what it does and achieved with factors within Oxbotica’s sphere of influence. 

FiveAI, Streetdrone, Aurrigo and the other world-class autonomous vehicle companies in the UK are also driving towards similar objectives.

The losers in this are the travellers in mixed traffic and the transport authorities and operators who want to deliver efficient and reliable journeys.

The way to win is to exploit the proliferation of Internet of Things-enabled equipment and increase the rich mix of information available to systems and operators alike.

Read the full feature on connectivity is the key to early wins in connected and automated mobility from the Smart Transport Journal.

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