Addressing the challenges of traffic growth
We agree: “New approaches are vital as the world strives for a smarter, cleaner and safer mobility future. It is through partnership and collaboration with governments and innovators — large and small — that we will accelerate the emergence of cutting-edge road technologies and realise their potential.”
And read this Report written by Santiago Rodríguez, Abertis Mobility Services CEO: Road Tech: new solutions to the challenges of traffic growth
There is no question that traffic and congestion is getting worse, all around the world. There are now 1 billion vehicles on the road globally. The World Economic Forum says that number could grow by 600 million by 2025. By 2050, it could rise as high as 4 billion. This brings enormous costs and consequences. The cost of all the traffic jams so many people encounter every day was put at $1.4 trillion by the WEF. Nearly 1.3 million people die each year in traffic accidents, and another 20 to 50 million are injured. Vehicles are the source of approximately 17 percent of all carbon emissions as well, making it a primary cause of air pollution (and all the health conditions that come with it) and climate change.
The automotive sector, spurred by commercial opportunities and changing realities, has shown a strong will and ability to innovate in response to these challenges. More fuel-efficient cars and electric cars have been moves in the right direction. Self-driving cars and trucks could be a great leap forward. But that will require also a focus on an often-overlooked aspect of this — the roads themselves. They need not be solely a surface on which people drive. Roads are the critical and universal platform on which all these new mobility technologies need to operate.
Roads can, in fact, be an active participant in the effort to create a more intelligent, more efficient infrastructure and transport system.
Digital technology is revolutionizing global industries, from manufacturing to retail. Infrastructure and transport are no different. Previously limited to physical elements like barriers and traffic signs, road infrastructure increasingly includes digital technologies such as wireless networks, hyper-connectivity, and artificial intelligence. And it’s also about findings new ways of approaching mobility services as a whole in this new sharing economy age.
For Larry Burns, former vice president for research and development at General Motors, “it is time the definition of infrastructure evolved to include not just the physical components, such as roads and bridges, but also digital and electronic components.”
Crucially, this isn’t about tech for tech’s sake. These cutting-edge developments can help solve some of the greatest challenges that come with traffic growth and more people on the move.
Solutions for autonomous and electric cars
Every day brings a new story about progress from vehicle manufacturers on new technologies. Connected, autonomous vehicles could change the game for the sector, and electric vehicles are beginning to go mainstream. Yet roads are the critical and universal platform on which all these technologies need to operate.
via Offset, Cavan Images
As Bryant Walker Smith, assistant professor at University of South Carolina puts it, “we focus on what’s really sexy, like self-driving cars. And we forget about all of the supporting technologies that could be really important.” As José Papi, chairman of the Smart Transportation Alliance explains, “the automated vehicle cannot work unless there is smart infrastructure.”
That’s because autonomous vehicles must be aware of both static surroundings — such as roads and telephone poles — and other vehicles, by using a whole range of sensors.
Abertis’ French and Spanish subsidiaries, for example, are already working with car manufacturers on the connectivity V2I (Vehicle to Infrastructure), crucial in the development of autonomous cars. There are strong signs of progress — but there’s some way to go before roadside connectivity moves into the mainstream.
Smarter, more efficient roads can help reduce accidents. They can help drivers navigate (and avoid) traffic. They can nurture the concept of mobility-as-a-service. They can help generate electricity. They can make travel and commerce more efficient, and they can augment the capacities being developed by the automotive industries and others.
Seizing the opportunity
There is great promise in these developments, but the responsibility (and opportunity) cannot fall on private initiative alone. Government policies and regulations can spur innovation and are needed as well, but these must find a way to address today’s challenges without limiting the mobility that is so necessary to so many.
Public-private partnerships are an important piece of that puzzle. Boston Consulting Group, which estimates an annual shortfall of U.S. $1 trillion-1.5 trillion between demand and investment in infrastructure, predicts that PPPs will play an increasingly important role in bridging the gap. A vital component of private financing is ensuring a model for revenue generation.
New approaches are vital as the world strives for a smarter, cleaner and safer mobility future. It is through partnership and collaboration with governments and innovators — large and small — that we will accelerate the emergence of cutting-edge road technologies and realize their potential.
The next five to 10 years will be crucial. If we work together — putting the best of the private and public sectors to work, finding the right financing mechanisms, and displaying the will and imagination needed —we can better connect cities and countries. That will spur growth and opportunity, without jeopardizing public health and while positively helping to address climate change.
At Abertis, we believe the key to unlocking progress lies at the intersection of advances in technology and road infrastructure innovation — because redesigning, and indeed redefining — roads for a world powered by tech is the way we’ll overcome the challenges of traffic growth.”
Santiago Rodríguez, Abertis Mobility Services CEO
Read this report at: www.abertis.com/en/roadtechreport
Albertis is the world’s leading toll road operator. To know more about the Abertis Road Tech program, please visit: https://www.abertis.com/en/safety-and-tech/road-tech
Posted on May 9, 2018
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