Intelligent transport systems


That mission is to achieve intelligent mobility in urban transportation, not merely as a theoretical technical and design concept, or as a set of web-enabled travel applications, but to instil it at the heart of the national consciousness.

This is a lofty claim, but there are two recent examples to back it up.  

The first example, the 2016 National Day Parade, featured a view of what Singapore will look like when it celebrates 100 years of independence in 2065; a sky city where individuals and families will be able to access a wealth of travel choices from their connected household or personal devices, and be taken on-demand by driverless pods to wherever they want to go, whenever they want to go there, on roads which are free-flowing and without congestion.

The second example, this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations featured the usual dazzling lantern displays down by the marina. It was dominated, of course, by a massive illuminated rooster (this year’s zodiac sign), but also prominent was an unmissable Smart Nation display and within this two life-sized mock ups of the Gemini, a prototype autonomous electric capsule produced by TUM-CREATE, a technical research centre at the National University of Singapore.

These two examples are interesting because they are not aimed at the usual urban or transportation professionals, or at technology researchers, concerned with the planning or design of infrastructure.  Nor are they part of the numerous autonomous vehicle testing taking place under the auspices of the Singapore Autonomous Vehicle Initiative (SAVI). Rather, they are pitched to the general public, residents and visitors, and with a clear message: we can see the future of mobility, it is intelligent, connected, automated …. and it works.

So that can we actually expect from Singapore in intelligent mobility when it reaches its first century, a little under 50 years from now, not only as a vision, but how it relates to infrastructure and the planning, design and operation of the public realm?

Here are my views: like the Jetsons in 1962, deliberately visionary, perhaps provocative and unconstrained by the real technical, social and economic practicalities of getting there, but a big picture to kick-start the debate.

Will everyone actually use autonomous vehicles?

Yes, almost certainly, and driverless transport will come in all shapes and sizes, service configurations, user tastes and value-added services.  It will also be electric, powered by hydrogen fuel-cells and other renewable sources, connected to the Internet of Things, and linked up to the smart grid and other technologies designed to limit energy intensity and carbon footprint to the absolute minimum.

Will people really use a single personal application and account on their personal device to access, compare and buy multi-modal travel options easily and intuitively?

Absolutely, and the current public transport smartcards and journey planning apps may evolve into a single iTravel online store offering hundreds of blended travel products for a monthly fee, tailored to individual needs and topped up on demand. This will be able to advise and adapt when the transport network is disrupted or conditions change in real-time.   

Will rich data on transport infrastructure, network condition and asset availability, be universally collated, managed and disseminated via open platforms to inform people, and assist and nudge their journey experience, as they move around the city each day?

Definitely: And this data will also enable city managers (perhaps Google and Apple rather than, or in partnership with, BMW or Hyundai) to run infrastructure and vehicles more efficiently, reliably and sustainably, and deploy the right resources at different times and circumstances. Linking with other smart city systems and services, there will also be clear rules and operating practices which will regulate the governance, flow and integrity of this data in real-time, like the human brain regulates blood and nutrients as it flows through the living body.

The really exciting part of all this is how everything will join up. Infrastructure. Autonomy. Information. Pricing. Choice. Data. Energy. Service. Citizenship. All this will combine to deliver an integrated, reliable and intuitive user experience with simultaneously informs network managers and supports a liveable, sustainable and attractive city. And perhaps iTravel, or a similar concept, really could emerge as the brand, product and app store that encapsulates it, disrupts and changes everything.  

What does this mean for transport and urban planning and design in Singapore?

In Singapore, a small island state at the tip of Asia where space is scarce, this vision has a clear focus. Intelligent mobility in all its combinations, will drive a sharp reduction in private car ownership – and all the negative social and environmental impacts that go with it. With technology causing the barriers between cars, public transport and forms of personal mobility to shatter, owning a physical asset which costs tens of thousands of dollars and spends 95% of its time parked at home or at the office will be illogical and pointless. In 2065, the convenience of flexible personal travel on demand by multiple means will be available to just about everyone, without a private ownership model, at a level of service they want for a price which all can afford.

As part and parcel of this, in my opinion, transport infrastructure will be smaller and smarter, freeing up land for other uses and a greener and more inclusive public realm. Transport operators will be able to create more integrated service offers and products focused on the user and generating sustainable revenue streams to fund investment and make commercial returns.

It is even conceivable that by the time Singapore turns 100 the government may have banned manual driving altogether, and removed the right (or the privilege) of having a personal driving license. Or more likely, safety regulations, insurance premiums and market forces, with a slight push from government regulation, will just make driving so prohibitively expensive that very few will want and afford to do it, just like, as Elon Musk has said, owning a race horse or holding a private flying license.

I don’t currently own a car in Singapore. And I have no need and intention of doing so. Public transport is first class and taxis and ride brokers like Grab or Uber provide easy access when the trains and buses can’t get me there. Personal mobility in Singapore is tremendous in 2017. But I look forward immensely to seeing how the transport system will improve further in future years and how intelligent mobility will progressively reshape my life and the lives of those around me. After all, intelligent mobility is ultimately about people rather than robots.

This will happen elsewhere, of course, but with enablers such as government leadership, supportive businesses and a tech-savvy public, expect a few visionary cities, like Singapore, to lead the way, and transform their urban infrastructure and built environment as a result. 

Singapore has an unashamed big vision for transport at 100 – big commitments, big actions and big results will be needed to secure that vision and ensure it benefits everyone. We will need to think creatively around making concepts real, combine function with physical design and efficient operation, focus on user needs and craft viable delivery models to make a future that works. At Atkins we must gear up now to see how we can help in that process. 

To find out more about intelligent mobility from Atkins, visit our hub and join our LinkedIn group.

Asia Pacific,

Data is valuable, it’s the new currency. In many sectors, including transport, it becomes invaluable when it is gathered, analysed and transformed into operational and business intelligence. And now there is a great potential for doing so in real-time, offering even bigger opportunities for the travel experience. It’s how we use data that will inform and influence the design of our future cities.

We have released a white paper that considers how we can use insights from big data to influence strategic decision-making and user behaviour.

As well as adding extra network capacity and delivering a better customer experience, big data presents an incredible opportunity to influence people’s behaviour, offering travellers with smarter and more sustainable transport choices.

For example, in a world of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), we can gather data that will inform us about the condition of the transport network, traveller and vehicle behaviour, usage peaks and troughs, the design and operation of towns and cities, and social trends. The maximum value of collaborative CAVs will only be possible with shared ownership and better planned urban networks.

Atkins is currently expanding its use of big data to include mobile phone data, GPS data and a wide range of maintained data assets and connected sensors. This helps us to plan and design future services, quickly address any issues on the network, inform customers of disruptions, travel updates and much more. This is just the tip of what is possible.  We have a growing portfolio of big data insight projects based on more generic and well-maintained data sources, and built on data analytics platforms that can automate common analysis, which enables substantial productivity and quality improvements. 

Using big data insight, we will be able to encourage and incentivise users of the transport system to move closer to their workplace and popular facilities, as well as to more sustainable transport and urban environments. Contemporary planning will help ensure we have the right travel alternatives in the right place and at the right time, making these long term choices attractive.

So what do we need to do now?

  • We need to increase the ‘velocity’ of traditional data analytics from what might be several weeks to a matter of minutes, with big data enabling new forms of algorithms and models to be trained and applied on accelerated computer systems.
  • We need to find a way to ensure data can be shared seamlessly across systems and sectors so we can maximise the benefits of big data for society as a whole.
  • We need to show the general public the benefits that sharing data can have so public opinion can shift and we can better improve people’s lives and journeys through having access to the bigger picture.

By capturing data and applying scenario planning, we can chart our route towards a more connected, automated and data-driven future, and a better passenger experience for us all.

To read the full study click here. To find out more about intelligent mobility from Atkins, visit our hub and join our LinkedIn group.

UK & Europe, Group, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, North America, Rest of World,

Since the introduction of the jet engine into large civil aeroplanes in the 1960s, the market has converged onto a design configuration that has not changed dramatically since. The amount of innovation and improvement of nearly every sub-component within the aircraft has resulted in planes that can fly nearly half way round the globe in one go and allow airlines to charge a reasonable price for a seat. However, it is possible that we are about to enter a period of innovation far greater than this.

Within Europe, aerospace manufacturers have set themselves tough environmental targets. An ambition to reduce CO2 output per aircraft by 75% compared to levels in 2000. Similar targets are set for NOx emissions and noise.

These targets are extremely challenging and incremental technology improvements to the existing large civil aircraft configuration is unlikely to provide what’s required. More free-thinking and radical change will be needed. Configuration and operational changes will need to be reviewed and these provide the 'big' Innovation that is likely to be required.

A number of challenges will need to be overcome to enable a configuration transformation, whilst some new ideas could provide the disruptive thinking needed to accelerate this process to meet the target timescales. These include the current cost and timescales for new aircraft development, the strict airworthiness regulatory framework and the lack of real competition to the Boeing / Airbus duopoly in the large civil aircraft market.

For a new aircraft to be viable, development costs and timescales must reduce. Artificial Intelligence (AI) could provide the tools to help. Once the initial aircraft configuration is determined, an AI could very rapidly carry out the detailed design and analytical work, particularly on the airframe structure. Aerodynamics could be optimised rapidly; airframe efficiencies, weights and manufacturing routes could be determined in weeks and not years. Combined with an increase in the use of additive manufacturing techniques, a step-change in timescales could be achieved. It's only a matter of time before AI could be integrated into engineer-in-the-loop processes.

The current airworthiness regulatory framework is compliance-based and in some places don't allow much space for innovation. If the regulation framework were moved towards a performance-based approach, the design space for the innovative solutions required increases. The underlying premise for any change is clearly to achieve zero safety risk.

Airbus and Boeing are currently targeting incremental improvements to their fleets. Although neither company have announced any firm plans for completely new aircraft models this may change thanks to new entrants to the market. Bombardier are introducing the C-Series, which is targeted at the short-haul market and will compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. COMAC, the state-owned aircraft manufacturer in China, is close to entering the short-haul market and has recently announced a larger, long-haul, aircraft targeted for service in the mid-2020s. Airbus and Boeing will likely need to respond if they want to maintain their market shares.

There is also the potential change in the way transport is provided to the public and the way aircraft are sold. 'Transportation as a service' is gaining momentum on the roads through services like Uber and the promise of self-driving cars, so why wouldn't this extend to aircraft? This could increase the need for different aircraft configurations that can provide a more personable and customisable experience to the travelling public. Aircraft could also be sold by the manufacturer as a service, much like aircraft jet engines are today.

With all these macro factors acting the time is ripe for 'big' innovation in aviation. As ever, the challenge is picking the right technologies that will provide the biggest benefit at the minimum risk. Aerospace could be about to enter a phase of innovation not seen since the 1940s to 1960s with the Second World War, the entry into the jet engine age and the introduction of wide-body aircraft. It could be the best time to be an aerospace engineer.

UK & Europe,

Reflecting on the past few months, it’s prompted me to think about Smart Cities, a phrase that’s not new, has promised so much and in my view, delivered so little. But, with a surge of new technology, digital disruption, entry of new market players and budget challenges for the public sector – could this be the catalyst for change?

With this in mind, coupled with new themes and trends emerging globally across the industry, I wanted to take a moment and make five Intelligent Mobility predictions for 2017…

Data Exploitation and Visualisation: This year we will see the emergence of new platforms, at pace. Data is arguably the life blood of a modern transport systems and critically important to unlocking value from new transport schemes, mobility solutions and customer tailored services. It will be through inter-operability, we see a drive towards ‘Platform as a Service’ across the sector which is here to critically disrupt the way we currently model, plan and deliver transport services globally in cities and urban areas.

Journey Management: We will witness the breakdown of silos across the transport system, with the deployment of critical technology solutions that cut across organisational and operational barriers. The surge of new payment systems will start to deliver seamless and positive customer journey experiences through account based ticketing systems. This will mean no more management of multiple Apps or cards – one account for the individual or family, think Sky-Go package.

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: A huge amount of R&D is currently underway globally, it’s hard to keep up with the activity, announcements, new projects and demonstrations – which of course is great news for the sector and ultimately the consumer, but we have some way to go before cars are completely driverless. However, I’m confident this year we will see the first full scale deployment of a connected vehicle with the surrounding infrastructure, that links directly to the management of the network and supports the maintenance of the road asset.

Mobility as a Service: It’s the ultimate consumer proposition, enabling the movement from transport to mobility. However, the business model is yet to be proven on scale. There are some fantastic schemes I’m watching emerge and develop at the moment and will continue to build throughout 2017, mainly in Europe and in the Middle East. But, it will be in the UK this year I believe we will see a full scale operation of a Mobility as a Service scheme, citywide.

Cyber Security and resilience: Globally, the sector has a lot of work to do across Intelligent Mobility. Areas of development to keep an eye on will be the emergence of Blockchain, along with automotive manufacturers taking further steps to protect their vehicles and the associated data.

Irrespective of whether these predictions come true, we are in for a fast paced and disruptive 2017, with the world of Intelligent Mobility set to be totally unpredictable!

What do you think? Do you agree? Or have you got a different prediction for Intelligent Mobility? It would be great to find out what you think is a trend for 2017.

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To find out more about intelligent mobility from Atkins, visit our hub


According to the United Nations DESA report, the world population is projected to increase to 8.5 billion by 2030. The majority of which are expected to live in or near major cities and metroplexes. With status quo, the resulting significant increase in travel demand would place an unacceptable burden on an already saturated transport system, with increased congestion, reduced safety and consequent negative impacts on human quality of life and businesses. The “status-quo approach” is simply not sustainable. While an expansion of the existing infrastructure seems to be the obvious choice, spatial constraints, especially in cities, make this option unviable. The alternative is to increase capacity through increased efficiency, based on a radically new concept of transport operations.

Over the last decade, innovative technologies, products and services have either directly delivered, or empowered significant disruption across the transport sector - with the potential to reshape transport network management and shift the behaviour of, and opportunities for, end-users. Some of the most significant changes have been the introduction of smartphones and other information and communication technologies that have enabled an ever growing range of services to be provided to the end-user, and huge quantities of up-to-date data and information to be shared in real time between relevant stakeholders. These technologies are also key enablers of this radically new concept of transport operations, known as Intelligent Mobility.

Intelligent Mobility is a new approach to the way people, places and goods are being connected across all transport modes. At its core, is the intelligent exploitation of automation and a huge amount of data (commonly known as ‘Big Data’) from relevant elements of the transport system and other sources, including the “Internet of Things” (IoT). This exploitation crucially underpins future journey management and enables services such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS).

Automation is centred on the development of Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) which have the potential to reduce congestion and pollution, and enhance safety. Big data, during planning stages, provides advanced insights into user behaviour, informing infrastructure and service needs as well as policy interventions. During operations, it provides operators and service providers with the necessary information to optimise their network in real-time, to provide up-to-date information and support to the end-user and influence their behaviour. MaaS is a real-time, fully managed personalised mobility service that is driven by user preferences. It provides seamlessly integrated journeys across all transport modes, including fully flexible payment options.

At present, the transport sector is characterised by a high level of fragmentation, with little strategic coordination between relevant market stakeholders. In order to deliver a seamless customer experience across the whole journey, there is an urgent need to bring these stakeholders together, including government, local and national transport authorities, city councils, transport providers, network operators, data providers and vehicle manufactures to mention but a few. This is a great challenge for the transport industry, as the majority of these stakeholders have traditionally operated in isolation of one another.

Fundamentally, the success of ‘Intelligent Mobility’ hinges crucially on the collaboration between all relevant stakeholders. The scale and rate of penetration will depend on three main pillars – collaboration, communication and coordination. It is therefore time we act together! We must be proactive and take the first step.

Get in touch with our Intelligent Mobility Team:

UK & Europe,

Transport planners in cities around the world – after decades of neglect – are now acknowledging the functionality of walking and cycling, in particular for short local trips and as ‘first and last mile’ connections to public transport. But another mode of urban mobility is emerging which could add to the mix of options and prove a game changer.

The new mode is known by some as Personal Mobility Devices, or PMDs. These are generally lightweight motorised vehicles powered by small electric motors to increase travel speed and distance of individual users without major exertion. PMDs come at a time when infrastructure investment and targeted marketing campaigns have helped grow take up of active travel modes which are increasingly recognised in terms of value and benefits to public realm and health. The term embraces a plethora of new consumer products such as e-scooters, hoverboards, electric monowheels and mini segways. New devices continue to be developed and are falling in price to levels well within the reach of those on middle incomes.

In most cities to date PMDs have mostly been used for leisure purposes. Some of us have given them to our children as playthings and we are increasingly seeing young people riding them in parks and on footpaths for recreation. Because they have a largely niche application and due to the lack of a clear legal definition they have largely escaped the serious scrutiny of transport planning professionals and not received much consideration as part of the accepted hierarchy of transport modes.

Where policy makers have stepped in the approach has often been to ban or restrict PMDs from footways or public spaces on the basis of health and safety, risk to other users and regulatory ambiguity around technical standards.And PMDs are often not allowed to be carried on aeroplanes or trains on the grounds of limited space for storage or the fire risk posed by their battery packs. 

It is easy to dismiss PMDs as a passing gimmick, or let decisions be made on the narrow basis of health and safety or poorly designed and maintained infrastructure, rather than see their wider potential for use on short distance trips. While safety concerns will – and should – always have priority these devices may yet, in my opinion, have a positive role to play in urban mobility policy and extending the accessibility of public transport.

It is therefore time we defined our terms properly, gathered the evidence and had in open debate about the role of PMDs alongside walking and cycling as viable alternatives to the car. The profession must also seek to create proactive and safe deployment through clear standards and guidelines.

Singapore is one city where PMDs are gaining traction as a key component of a ‘car- lite’ society, as a strong alternative mode for first and last mile links to public transport and as an important element of creating a sustainable and ‘liveable’ city. Such devices feature prominently in the Government’s ‘Walk-Cycle-Ride Singapore’ campaign, are allowed to share certain walking and cycling infrastructure and are a focus within events such as Car Free Sundays.

Proponents argue that PMDs serve much the same role as walking and cycling in reducing car dependency and extend the catchment of public transport without the need for major infrastructure investment or feeder bus or taxi services.

They also do so in a manner which is appropriate to Singapore’s tropical climate where heat and humidity deter many people from intense physical exertion for much of the year. Against these arguments critics have expressed serious concerns over the dangers posed to pedestrians by reckless riding and point out that PMDs have only a fraction of the health benefits of non-motorised transport.

Now after much debate the Singapore Government is legislating to set clear rules and regulations as to what riders of PMDs can and cannot do and where they can do it. The Singapore Government introduced an Active Mobility Bill in November 2016, which is currently completing Parliamentary approval and enactment is due early this year. The Bill includes the use of PMDs and limits their speed to between 15 and 25km/h depending on type, route and location.

A series of rules and a code of conduct are being set out to encourage responsible use. Rules include the need for lights to be fitted and turned on at night, use of hand signals, observing of all relevant traffic regulations and exchanging personal details in the event of an accident. Penalties of up to S$5000 (about £2800) will be handed down for reckless riding behaviour, with custodial sentences of up to 12 months for the most serious offences.

Over the last year ownership of PMDs has grown in Singapore, especially e-scooters which are increasingly being seen on the streets. There is an active and competitive supplier market developing and a proposal has been made for a public e-scooter hire scheme, operating much like the public cycle hire schemes of London and Paris.

The question in my mind is whether Singapore’s acceptance of PMDs offers an example for other cities across the world seeking to safely adopt the latest wave of innovation. And are PMDs a passing fad, an unsafe nuisance or potentially a disruptive form of technology here to stay? If such devices are recognised as a proper transport mode how do we weigh their costs, benefits and wider impacts and adapt the design and maintenance of infrastructure and public realm to allow their safe (and as appropriate shared) use? Would the policy adopted in Singapore play well in other cities with a hot or tropical climate, such as Kuala Lumpur or Dubai, or even in those with temperate conditions such as London, New York or Munich? Will cities leading on public transport or cycling such as Zurich, Amsterdam and Copenhagen see PMDs as irrelevant, a threat or an opportunity?

Like the long running debate over shared design and use of infrastructure and public space between pedestrians and cyclists there will likely be a wide range of views, enthusiasms and concerns over the wider take up of PMDs, some of them passionately held on both sides. In deciding future policy for any given city, we should assess evidence from around the world to help shape what could be an exciting new aspect of urban mobility.

Find out more about Intelligent Mobility(iM) here.
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This article first appeared in Transportation Professional, the magazine of the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation.

Asia Pacific,

Ford recently announced plans to develop high-volume, highly autonomous driverless vehicles, aiming to achieve SAE International’s level 4, enabling high system control of vehicles. News headlines over the last few years have highlighted the potential dangers to autonomous vehicles from cyber-attack or system failure. Major manufacturers have all reported issues and the well-tested Google car had its first crash in 2016 after several years of use. Experience tells us control software, and its decision-making logic, is not infallible. While incidents are rare, the potential remains for them to be catastrophic.

Automation at the levels envisaged by manufacturers is bordering on both the common place and science fiction. To me the SAE International levels are an Isaac Asimov-like ‘six laws of driving automation’; from no automation (level zero) through to full automation (level six) with various modes and capabilities being engaged across the driving range. For levels three to six, an increasingly bewildering range of technologies that make up vehicle systems could equate to the robotic ‘positronic brain’ in Asimov’s robots – the heart of autonomous decision-making for vehicle control, monitoring and performance.

Reading between the lines, no doubt Asimov’s robots were very heavily tested and the positronic brains put through their paces. It feels like the same may not be said for autonomous vehicles.

In technology terms alone, interconnectedness abounds both within and without the vehicle and the attack surface is staggering: infotainment systems, wireless sensors, diagnostic ports, infrared control, USB, Bluetooth, keyless entry and telematics services with in-car applications. Each of these systems is potentially complicated by various levels of product maturity and multivendor system solutions that in turn engage with other elements of a digital ecosystem.

While the core components in themselves may be robust, it is the link to other components outside the core elements that offer potential areas of weakness and vulnerability to cyber-attack from increasingly challenging threats. Should an attack or system failure occur, the impact is huge in terms of vehicle passengers and the manufacturer’s reputation. Securing these linkages across a diverse vendor base is a huge challenge. This patchwork build structure inevitably leads to weaknesses, many of which will be very familiar to veteran security hands:

  • Poor, or non-existent, product hardening including simple passwords or open communications
  • Lack of encryption across the vehicle network and through the telematics system
  • Poor segregation between components across the vehicle network.

These are security’s ‘grapes’, ripe for picking, followed by mayhem in the pressing shed. There is so much more that the manufacturers could do but at the moment they appear to choose not to.

While technology advances, bigger, more human-centric questions are raised. Trust is critical. Humans must believe that these autonomous systems will operate properly if the industry has a successful future. After all, just who would get into one if the destination could be changed and the doors locked to stop escape! Providing real assurance that a vehicle is safe and secure is paramount.

Also, its decision-making heart must also be able to make the same value judgements that humans make every day. Can it make decisions between life and death? What logic applies then? What humans do by reaction, wisdom or feeling needs replicating. We must have full confidence in the systems if we are to use them on our roads.

Just how do we provide this assurance? How happy do people need to be to give up their control?

The industry is confident it can overcome these challenges, but from a security perspective the way forward does not seem so assured. With a multitude of manufacturers and vendors each developing products in isolation or exclusive partnerships, this fragmentation hides potential vulnerabilities between systems and implementations. Over the last couple of years we’ve started to see some emerging security approaches beyond ISO 26262 but these don’t feel enough. Both the SAE and the IET have active groups exploring these issues so the problem is being worked on.

With all this new technology about, security needs to step back a bit and perhaps remember the 80-20 rule: As a starting point, implementing the 20% most important controls will likely manage 80% of the security risk. This basic approach can take security forward with a bit more pace – taking an overall look at vehicle cyber security through a framework model focused at increasing protection, resilience, awareness and confidence in the systems.

At the very least manufacturers and vendors could be prompted to assess the overall maturity of their cyber security within the operational systems of vehicles, the modules they plug in and how they then interact, including the information captured and its subsequent flow. These assessments can be used as a baseline to demonstrate what is being performed well, what security gaps exist and how these can be reduced to increase the overall security posture.

Taking things further through more regular reviews and updates of systems that include patching on the move, improvements in general and good housekeeping all go a long way to getting the 80-20 right and taking most vulnerabilities out of circulation. This can only lead to better human assurance that really builds confidence in these vehicles.

UK & Europe,

Automated Vehicles (AV), or self-driving cars, have been all over the news recently. Venturer, for example, looks to examine people’s behaviours and technology implications for autonomous vehicles through the creation of a test site in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire region. Connected Vehicles (CV) are also being deployed and tested across the world. It’s important to understand what they both mean, and why we want/need them.

Imagine a car, not unlike your own, that can talk to other cars around it and hear about the road and conditions for the journey you are intending to go on and suggest options to you. You are driving all the time, but the CV car is now talking to you and to other cars, but not offering to do the driving for you, not yet. Now an automated vehicle is the other type of car, like an older brother of CV where it will do all of the talking but can also do the driving for you. Imagine a car that can drive itself, allow you to read your paper, work on your email, and alerts you when it needs your attention – that is AV.

If you think about it, our vehicles are already more connected than you might realise. Sat navs already include connected vehicle functionality, such as dynamic route guidance; your sat nav receives information of congestion ahead via mobile phone signal, and suggests an alternative route. TomTom, Garmin and other companies currently subscribe to data feeds provided by Highways England which give details of incidents, including the cause and likely clear-up time, which they pass onto you.

‘eCall’ (emergency call) is a CV capability that is currently being provided by several vehicle manufacturers, and which the EU plans to make a legal requirement in all new vehicles. When a car is involved in an accident, it will detect what has happened (the airbags have deployed, say) and set up an automatic voice call to a control centre. At the same time it will use GPS to send precise location details, so the emergency responders can set off faster and have more details of the situation.

Even AV is already with us to some extent; adaptive cruise control can maintain a set speed and slow down / speed up in response to the vehicle in front, meaning you might not need to touch your accelerator pedal at all on the motorway. And lane keeping systems mean you don’t need to steer. The difference is that at the moment, you are officially in control of the vehicle (Level 2 automation on the SAE scale – PDF) whereas with true AV in future, the car will be fully in control (Level 5).

So what next for CV in the shorter term? Vehicles nowadays have a huge amount of information which could be really useful for highway operators. e.g. vehicles switch on wipers when it’s raining, switch on fog lights when foggy, sense reduced skid resistance in icy conditions and has external temperature detectors. Even floods, potholes, road debris can be identified by analysing the data trails from the vehicles. All this information could help with gritting, setting variable message signs, sending out patrols, etc. if taken from the vehicle’s CAN bus and communicated to control centres.

Another opportunity for CV is the sharing of traffic signal information with CV/AV. Green Light Optimisation, as demonstrated recently in Newcastle, where emergency vehicles and priority buses can request a green signal, or the creation of virtual green waves as and when appropriate, are becoming increasingly possible.

However, for the uptake and management of CV and AV capability, it will be necessary to make sure that the communications network is capable enough to ensure its success. This means ensuring that the infrastructure backbone can ensure safe, reliable, robust ways of sharing information between all parts of the network. This will require strategic investment and understanding of both the technical and behavioural issues around AV and CV, as well as the long term maturity of the different technology mixes currently available. Venturer’s test environment will ensure that these and other questions associated with AV deployment are addressed in a safe and thorough way.

Finally, it is worth stating the potentially huge benefits that can be provided by CV / AV:

Safety – Most accidents involve driver error and we know that machines could drive more reliably than humans. By greatly reducing the opportunity for human error, AV technologies have the potential to significantly reduce the number of crashes.

Reduced congestion – Through connected and automated services vehicles could drive closer together, which would increase roadway capacity without impeding safety since machines can keep minimum distances and still drive safely when compared with a human driver. We cannot keep building roads and adding lanes to meet demand, so CV/AV will be the vital next big step for increasing capacity.

Improved emissions – Vehicle platooning reduces air resistance for following vehicles, and traffic signal information could lead to more optimised speeds, two examples of ways in which emissions can be reduced.

Time – If drivers aren’t driving they can be working or reading or watching television!

Equity – Anyone can use a self-driving car! Disabled, younger or older people would all have increased mobility, surely one of the greatest potential benefits of CV/AV. Of course this could greatly increase demand, and completely change the way we use cars (renting road space instead of owning a car).

Improved road design – The improved safety could remove the need for crash barriers, which when combined with the replacement of signs with in-vehicle information could lead to our roads becoming less cluttered and more attractive!

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Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, North America, Rest of World, UK & Europe,

The 21st century has seen an astonishing rate of technological development. Looking back around ten years we saw the first smartphones starting to appear, the Oyster card was taking hold in London’s public transport provision and social networks were beginning to emerge. In the last 12 months alone the proportion of the UK population who now own smartphones has risen from 51% to 61%. Correspondingly 90% of the data that exists globally was generated in the last two years alone.

The transport sector is starting to see a number of trends taking hold which are starting to change how people perceive the role of transport and what it should be doing to meet their requirements. The rise of the sharing economy has seen car share and bike hire go from a niche market to an expectation of any self-respecting city. The application of big data analytics is creating space for new market entrants to develop new products and services that are taking on the established order and forcing them to assess their business model and their customers’ experience.

Across all of these emerging opportunities there is a major strategic opportunity for the concept of intelligent mobility to be applied systematically. To achieve this, the two central tenets must be observed:

  • the user and their experience must be placed at the heart of service design and delivery;
  • the transport network must be planned and delivered as a completely integrated system.

If we perceive the term ‘Intelligent Mobility’ (IM) as a method for framing our understanding of the role of transport as actually being a utility that exists solely to meet our mobility demands in order to undertake an activity at the end of every journey, then what is the practical impact for transport as a means to an end?

IM thinking changes the landscape, moving from transport as the provision of fixed services to an integrated system of mobility opportunities focused on delivering the requirements of every user in an individualised and on-demand manner.

One practical implementation of IM is Mobility as a Service (MaaS). The goal of MaaS is to enable users to purchase mobility in an individualised and flexible manner with the user requirements placed at the heart of the service they are purchasing. It enables access to mobility rather than buying a car or season ticket and, crucially, is about helping the user to get around quickly, easily and flexibly.

MaaS inverts the traditional focus on transport as the supply of capacity on a fixed network of routes (railway lines, bus routes and so on) and instead designs and directs a transport system to meet the demand of every single user. The opportunity for MaaS to be applied has been enabled by the penetration of smartphones across the population and by the power of data analytics to be able to consume and make sense of the amount of data required to manage every user’s journey in the most efficient way possible and dynamically against how the network is performing and where the demand actually is in real time.

From the user perspective, MaaS fundamentally shifts the role of the transport system from the blunt instrument of multiple forms of supply to instead meeting the individual’s demand for travel for their whole journey. There is a helpful analogy – your mobile phone contract. Imagine paying a monthly fee to your network provider (it could be your city transport authority, or perhaps EE, or BMW) and you pick the contract that provides the right options for you, for example unlimited train travel, a certain number of bike hires, some use of carsharing and liftsharing services could be included in your monthly tariff, with some bolt-on extras available as and when required.

From the perspective of the transport sector, this could see a shift to businesses focusing on one of two areas – either the provision of supply of infrastructure capacity to enable mobility (e.g. trains, buses, car rental) or the customer-facing retail element as the mobility service provider (who would meet the user demand by purchasing capacity from the supplier in block and then tailoring a package to fit their individual customers’ requirements).

MaaS can fundamentally change the game in a number of positive ways and cities across the world are taking notice of this emerging approach to reimagining how we can improve mobility.

For more on this discussion, have a read of the white paper we have published on MaaS which you can find here.

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Can we understand the true benefit of such new applications over more traditional forms of sustainable travel delivery? Is there still room for both? Probably. But how can the technology industry play a role in facilitating wider and more effective public engagement and improving the monitoring performance of smarter travel projects? Furthermore, what does the travel plan of the future look like in terms of the provision for technology-based measures? We look forward to seeing these issues discussed at Smarter Travel 2015.

Increasingly, the talk of any sustainable travel project is around Intelligent Mobility. This seamlessly connects people, places and goods across all transport modes. It is all about behavioural change in the door-to-door journey – how we use technology and data on the road, cycling and walking network, rail and public transport networks to inform decision making and enable behavioural change.

The withdrawal of Transport Direct as a Government maintained service opens up the market to a number of new private sector led and publicly funded journey planners using Open Data. User feedback is being incorporated into how journey options are presented (for example, how the Waze application automatically re-routes drivers to an alternative route if there is congestion ahead recorded by other drivers using the application).

Providing user feedback in a smart way is increasingly what consumers want and are familiar with, but there can be unintended consequences. Real-time journey re-routing may cut journey times for customers but could lead to increased traffic volumes on minor roads (with associated environmental impacts on local communities).

Customers are increasingly using rewards-based journey planners that offer personal added value. For example, the user receives an alert to a number of coffee shops on route and is offered a discount to stop along their way. This concept, referred to as ‘gamification’ by some, can help to engage a wider audience, but we need to hear more from the technology industry about the longer-term mode shift potential and whether we will witness ‘gamification’ fatigue!

As sustainable travel professionals we are, and should continue to, embrace Intelligent Mobility but should remain open-minded about specific technology solutions and their intended benefits for LSTF revenue schemes in the coming year. Technology gives us the opportunity to influence a wider audience but the role of knowledgeable, local transport planners will always be key especially when engaging with sections of the population who are most impacted by social exclusion issues.

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Atkins is a lead sponsor for Smarter Travel 2015 in Birmingham in February. The conference will provide a platform to showcase successes achieved by the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) projects over the last three years, along with a chance for technology providers to demonstrate their latest smarter travel products and journey planning applications.

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This could be considered by some as quite a radical question, particularly, for those that are like me that have been involved in the sector for many years! So, is asking this question a bit like career suicide?

It is quite clear that ITS as a sector has had a challenging few years, and I would argue this was in part was of its own making, we have struggled for too long to explain the benefits and outcomes that ITS can deliver.

That said we are now seeing some growth return and technology is key to some solutions e.g. Smart Motorways, but is this recognised across the board? It still feels that we haven’t learnt the lessons from the past and we run the risk as a sector of not fully realising our potential

I am still passionate about ITS, it needs to punch its weight, be recognised for the value it can add but it needs to change. There needs to be a stronger connection between the role of technology as an enabler across the modes of transport and a focus on the customer experience underpinned by a discipline of formal behavioural change techniques.

There is an opportunity ahead of the ITS sector in the context of Intelligent Mobility, and whilst Intelligent Mobility is not ITS, ITS does have a key role to play.

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