ITS World Congress 2017 report
Over 10,000 people from all over the ITS world: academics, researchers, policymakers, businesses, entrepreneurs, investors, and implementers...
Last year Melbourne and Australia were centre stage in the Intelligent Transport Systems world, hosting the 2016 ITS World Congress. This year it is Montreal’s turn, and iMOVE’s Ian Christensen and Jeff Kasparian are on deck to see how things are moving along in the world of future transport.
Today is the official start of ITS World Congress 2017, with the opening address and plenaries. It’s a huge event, with over 10,000 attendees and exhibitors and the vast majority of global movers and shakers in intelligent transport systems, mobility, and smart cities are in town.
It’s a chance for us to see what’s happening all over the world, think about how this all relates to Australia and, of course, our research centre and its future activities.
Many speakers made a point of saying that things have moved along significantly since last year’s Congress in Australia, not only in technology but also in government policy making. Another key point was that we, and that is everyone, government and citizen, need to be ready for the change and disruption that is in our future.
When in the future? Yes, a lot’s happening, but there’s a huge amount still to be done! This reinforces what was said so many times at last month’s ITS 2017 Australian Intelligent Transport Systems Summit, in Brisbane.
If there was an award for word of the day, today it would be collaboration. It must be the core component of success – industry, government, academia, public, all interplaying, all participating, all benefitting. Pleased to say that iMOVE CRC partners already get this and the importance of keeping on top of global developments. Many of them are represented at this congress – we’ve caught up with ITS Australia, University of Melbourne, IAG, ARRB, Cohda Wireless, Cubic Transportation Systems, Telstra, and Transmax to name a few.
This is just an intro to the week’s activities, we’ll be posting more on the key themes and some of our thoughts throughout this week. We’re looking forward to bringing some of these ideas into workshops with our partners over the coming months as we continue to develop the iMOVE CRC research program.
Today we met up with University of Melbourne’s Professor Majid Sarvi, and Dr Andrew Rudge, at their stand displaying the world-leading AIMES test bed. There’s quite a few test beds on display here, all with a strong focus on Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV). AIMES’ brief is far wider than one type of vehicle, taking in as it does cars, trucks, trams, buses, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and cyclists. It truly is groundbreaking work, and the world’s eyes are on this important urban experiment running out of Melbourne.
If there’s one thing that’s been made clear over the last couple of days, it is that Australia is right up with the world’s best in tackling the brave new world of transport and mobility. That said, some countries and cities have significantly upped their spend on ITS and mobility, and Australia will have its work ahead of it keeping up in R&D and implementation.
There’s a lot of work across the world going into platooning vehicles, particularly trucks. The first commercial rollout of truck platooning will be in a two-truck formation. The main benefit for the trucking industry is economic, with savings in the area of 4.5% for the lead vehicle, and 10% for the rear truck. Companies well advanced in this area are Navistar, Daimler AG, and Peleton.
A number of trials are looking at electric trucks. Not just fully-electric drivetrain trucks like the Cummins AEOS and the upcoming Tesla electric truck, but trucks that are powered by overhead wires or in-road electricity.
Connectivity is king in the ITS and smart cities world, and one roadblock to overcome is the sharing, availability, and health of the data. Progress across the world is encouraging, but it’s universally acknowledged that there is a long way to go, and many more people and organisations needed to step in and contribute.
Kurtis McBride, of Miovision expressed concern about the data architecture used. With so many new sensors generating data, if the architecture is not right at the start then the data runs the risk only being useful for a project’s original purpose, rather than being used for subsequent projects and investigations.
Similarly, the security of data, and the concern of the public is an important area of work. Expect this to be an area that iMOVE CRC will address!
Cohda Wireless today showed off the new feature in its V2X radio product today, called V2X-Locate. It helps overcome the problem of dealing with accurate vehicle location being comprimised by multi-path reflection from objects, particularly in cities, tunnels and parking stations. Even in a best-case scenario, using dead reckoning sensors, no more than accuracy within two metres is guaranteed. Cohda’s solution is a software update that provides sub-metre accuracy with 95% confidence, even without the availability of GNSS. This it has tested in that most toughest and environment full of multi-path interference, New York City. Cohda Wireless CEO Paul Gray went on to say that because it’s a software update there is no additional cost or difficulty implementing the product.
The future of parking? In a panel today they considered what that future might be. The time frame for this exercise in looking ahead was 20 years. For one, the panel predicted far less need for curbside parking. That could mean that space being repurposed, for example into dedicated cycling, or delivery vehicle-only lanes. There would also be far less use for parking stations in cities, freeing up large swathes of land. And for what urban parking did remain, it could be removed as a separate cost, and instead be bundled into a cost based on the use of the vehicle in the city.
Xiaojing Wang, Chair of the China ITS Industry Alliance, spoke about his country’s National Guidelines for ITS Development, a five-year plan. In it is provision for the development of artificial intelligence, and intelligent vehicles, however it seems that China’s focus will be directed to buses and trucks in preference to cars.
Reporting on the ITS scene in Europe, Claire Depre, Head of Unit, Intelligent Transport Systems, DG MOVE, European Commission, made it clear the priority is mobility rather than vehicles. The desire is to move quickly from talking ITS totrial and implementation, and for regions to be included simultaneously, rather than urban communities first. Other issues Europe wants to address with ITS programs are sustainability problems, such as energy consumption and air pollution.
Today there was a panel discussion called ‘New Business Models’, that was pertinent in light of Australia’s troubled recent history of road ownership. The panel explored in some detail the dilemma of how to get risk-averse governments to accept or adopt new technologies and new ways of doing old things (like Uber vs taxis). The discussion ranged over managing change in a political environment, and the need for industry and government to learn by ‘doing together’ (industry and government). Understanding which parties can bear which sorts of risk most easily.
They discussed the likelihood that the roads utilities will follow broadcasting, telecoms, public transport, and power generation and distribution, and end up being privatised, but that this would require further evolution in the meaning and style of public/private partnerships. It would also require further discussion and resolution of the role of government and separation of the role of (road safety) regulator and the role of asset owner. There is also a necessity for road management to deliver equitable access to all the public, and the intrinsic depression that obligation places on financial ROI, and ultimately the need to find an economic and socially acceptable way for road users to fund the road infrastructure.
There was a general observation of the need to address the demand side of the road usage question, and the hope that new technology would provide value-adding opportunities to do that. They concluded that the impending revolutions in people transport are:
- Shared vehicle usage
- Funding of roads
- Bringing transport into the electricity system
- Becoming consumer-centric
‘Data is the new oil’. That’s an expression you run into quite a bit these days, in a number of places and endeavours. In ITS there’s quite a bit of work going on in many organisations, accessing and utilising data to assist with traffic management. Interestingly, while it is universally accepted that data has made the quality of information better, many are still struggling with knowing what the ‘right data’ is, getting the right data, and at a cost that makes the business case clear that the data should be bought/gathered.
On this topic, Bill Eisele, Senior Research Engineer at Texas A&M Transportation Institute, gave a nice quote: “The Big Data end goal is that big data should be able to answer these questions – “where, when, how and why do all system users desire to travel? ”If we can provide that information, the job is done!”
And in this is the key takeaway from the conference. More and more the term ‘mobility’ is being used, above nebulous terms such as intelligent transport systems. Why? Because the customer must be at the core of everything we are do. The industry must be able to explain what it is doing, and why, the advantages, and the issues, in a way that is not technical or complicated, to the general public.