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The time is now to integrate the connected car into smart city planning

Now is the right time for city leaders to plan for fully integrating connected cars into smart cities, says Sebastien Brame, Clarion Europe.

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Connected cars are fast becoming a feature on our roads and will play a key part in the evolution of smart cities across the world.

 

Far from being purely science fiction, connected car technology is progressing at such a pace that self-driving cars will become reality within the next few decades, inextricably linked to the development of smart infrastructure in our urban areas.

 

Accenture predicts that 98 per cent of cars will be connected to some degree by 2020.

 

Accenture predicts that 98 per cent of cars will be connected to some degree by 2020. Now is the right time for city leaders to plan for fully integrating connected cars into smart cities. This means using connected car technology to maximise efficiency, safety and security on the road.

 

Advances in connected car innovations

 

Allied Market Research has forecast the global connected car market will be worth $141 billion by 2020, with fully self-driving car sales expected to hit 21 million by 2035.

 

The latest innovations in connected cars are impressive. Although fully self-driving cars are not yet on the roads, many new cars are designed with autonomous features to make driving easier, safer and more efficient. Driving aids using intelligent navigation, lane assistance, V2X, predictive maintenance and energy analysis are all in use today, with automotive manufacturers rapidly adopting connected technologies in new car models bought to market.

 

In-car technologies are already delivering tangible benefits to the urban environment and beyond. Take the example of built-in speed regulators and traffic jam assistants. These optimise speed according to road conditions and positively impact fuel consumption, helping to reduce emission levels.

 

A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the University of Maryland found that avoiding excessive braking and acceleration can reduce fuel consumption by around 15 per cent.

 

In addition, according to the EuroFOT (European Field Operational Test), if all vehicles in the European Union used speed regulators, this would save nearly 700 million litres of fuel each year and prevent the emission of 1.7 million tonnes of CO2.

 

If all vehicles in the European Union used speed regulators, this would save nearly 700 million litres of fuel each year and prevent the emission of 1.7 million tonnes of CO2.

 

On an individual level, the result is a safer and more enjoyable driving experience. On a strategic level, this is a clear example of how connected car technology can be harnessed to help ease traffic congestion and pollution on the roads.

 

Parking efficiencies maximise the use of space

 

Autonomous parking systems, integrated into cars like the latest Nissan Leaf, are already bringing self-driving vehicles a step closer to reality and saving space in crowded urban environments.

 

These technologies enable a car to accurately and safely park itself – all the driver has to do is press a button in the car or use an app on their smartphone to park their car remotely.

 

Technology is also available that memorises parking environments and parking patterns. It can be used to automatically park vehicles in frequently used parking spaces such as at home or work.

 

The potential offered by these innovations is enormous. Not only does self-parking technology remove much of the stress of finding a parking space on a busy street and avoid accidents caused by human error, but it also makes it possible to park cars closer together to maximise the use of space. This has measurable benefits, including cost efficiencies, to anyone designing parking in smart cities.

 

Think about the pressure on parking spaces in large cities across the world. An analysis from the University of California grouped together 16 studies of 11 megacities including London and New York and found that around 30 per cent of cars driving around those cities were looking for a parking space. Self-parking technology can help to address this issue.

 

Safety and the autonomous car

 

While self-driving cars offer many benefits, there are still concerns about whether autonomous cars will be safe on the road.

 

A recent report from analyst firm Canalys points out that the autonomous car will not get distracted, drive under the influence, have blind spots, get road rage, fall asleep, speed or pass through red lights.

 

They will have faster reaction times than humans, and with V2X connectivity will communicate with other vehicles, road users and pedestrians to anticipate and know what is ahead, enabling much-improved traffic flow and safer, less congested roads.

 

There are all benefits but there are also risks. Consider the question of cybersecurity. It is critical that connected cars are protected from cyber-attacks in the future. City leaders are working closely with car manufacturers on safety and security features, and huge advances have already been made towards meeting technical and legal requirements.

 

Alleviating pressure on our smart cities of the future

 

Inevitably, autonomous cars will have a huge effect on our individual driving experiences, with comfort, reliability and safety all factors in this. More importantly, connected cars are a key consideration in how our cities and towns of the future will be designed and structured.

 

By 2030, the Megacities Institute has estimated that 70 per cent of the world’s population will be living in massive urban areas. Alongside this, the world’s population is continuing to grow, placing more pressures on towns and cities. Today, 31 cities worldwide have more than ten million inhabitants. This will vastly expand to 41 megacities within 12 years.

 

Inevitably, this will exacerbate issues such as traffic noise, congestion and pollution levels and will also place increasing pressure on city frameworks. On the flip side, the majority of people are not going to give up on the convenience of owning a car. Recent data from IPSOS found that 65 per cent questioned in a survey said they could not do without a car.

 

Recent data from IPSOS found that 65 per cent questioned in a survey said they could not do without a car.

 

City leaders are already factoring traffic management into their strategic plans – for example, the use of hyper-lanes for self-driving cars has been widely debated. By keeping the latest connected car technology front of mind, city planners can evaluate how to best manage the challenges of traffic-saturated cities.

 

Arguably, the future of our cities is inherently linked to the car of the future and we need to be taking a positive and progressive approach towards this.

 

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