Connected vehicles are changing the future of transport

Smarter public transport, vehicles that drive remotely, unmanned cars and cars that adjust their speed to traffic lights. New networks (read 5G) and connected vehicles are creating a wealth of opportunities in the future of transport.

Smarter systems with 5G

Last year I supplied routers to a project where remote-controlled forestry equipment is controlled over a private 5G network. This is an excellent example of a controlled environment where the private 5G networks make sense. But not only the private networks can be used for remote-controlled cars. I have been talking about the possibility of remote control cars in the 5G networks in the future.

I recently heard about a company that wants to revolutionise the automotive industry, Halo. Halo is launching a new service in the Las Vegas area. Their fleet consists exclusively of driverless vehicles. So when you need a car, you book in the app, and the vehicle will arrive at your doorstep. They use 5G technology, just sitting in front of their computers at the office, and they will drive a car and drop it off just outside your house. Specially trained drivers remotely drive the car to you whenever you need it. Then you take over and operate the vehicle as you usually do. As an added safety feature, Halo has developed an automatic stop mechanism that allows cars to immediately if a potential danger or deviation is detected.

So when you’re going to a meeting, you can drop the car outside, and they will find a parking space, so there is no need to worry about parking tickets.

On a more low-end level

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could pick up a ready-made cup of coffee at the coffee shop at the bus stop that was ready exactly when you got off the bus? Or be told when the next traffic light is red so you can slow down and pass the moment it turns green. As you already know, the future is the internet of things, where things are made intelligent and interact with each other. Even in traffic, intelligent traffic solutions and smart traffic can lead to a better environment, shorter journey times and an overall better experience. And it’s not just self-driving Teslas that are part of the future traffic environment.

Connected smart traffic

Audi already connected cars to city traffic lights on a large scale five years ago, where data can be exchanged with traffic management systems in real-time. In the car’s instrumentation, the driver can see whether they will make it to the traffic light during its green period if driving within the speed limit. If the system judges that the chance is low, it counts down the time so the driver can see the following green phase and take their foot off the accelerator. Drivers can simply adapt their behaviour to the situation and drive through the city at a much more relaxed and controlled pace. According to tests, the number of cars forced to brake should be reduced by 20%, allowing a 15% fuel saving.

IoT makes public transport and travels more efficient

A significant application where communication between traffic lights can impact is public transport and emergency vehicles. Here syncing the traffic lights makes it possible to control traffic flows by letting these vehicles have a green light when approaching the traffic light.

Commuter parking is often full, but intelligent traffic systems can guide travellers to real-time nearest available commuter parking. The big challenge for public transport companies is to create smart solutions that can link services together, creating entirely new services and uses. Services that can be linked to your journey and your travel needs, such as your travel card, in a chain that goes beyond getting on and off the train. When you get off the train, you might need a bike or a car, reach the nearest sports shop and why not grab a coffee on the way there. Or when you get to the commuter car park, well then it’s nice if the car is warm in winter and the parking time ends the moment you put the car key in the lock. So intelligent transport systems have great potential by increasing mobility, convenience and integration with other services.

The Swedish Road Councils’ forward-looking solution

The Swedish Road Councils, Trafikverket, has over 200 cars equipped with a system that warns of slippery conditions. The system reads the road status; hence the system is called Road Status Information or “RSI”. The RSI system predicts and describes where and when slippery road conditions occur. The technology, which was developed partly on the initiative of the Swedish Transport Administration, which is also the client, will in the long term contribute to more efficient winter road maintenance, increased road safety and reduced environmental impact. By collecting anonymised data from road users – combined with weather information of various kinds – the basis is laid for a detailed picture of the road climate in real-time. But the system will also be used to predict future road conditions for the entire road network.

RSI combines climate models, anonymous vehicle data analysis and detailed statistical analysis of road sections to present slippery road warnings with greater accuracy than before.

The future is even more connected

The key to successful IoT systems is that data is shared between systems. The Swedish Road Councils’ anti-skid initiative is one such leg; Audi’s communication with traffic lights is another. When these in-vehicle systems start interacting, we can level up even further when the public transport systems interact with other systems. The day when not just Audi but all connected vehicles talk to traffic lights, to slip warning systems and can also predict and warn of traffic jams, we can benefit from the systems’ exchange with each other.