Thought leaders spark debate at ITS World Congress


Traffic Technology Today has been speaking exclusively to some of the most influential thought leaders at the ITS World Congress in Bordeaux, France, this week (October 5-9), getting news on the latest research projects and opinion on where the industry is heading. Here are highlights from six of the best conversations we’ve had over the past few days.

Carl Andersen, connected vehicle program manager for the FHWA, USDOT, reveals the ease with which connected vehicle systems could be used to control traffic speeds, according to his new research

“What we have done is deployed advanced mobility simulations and run them on cities. Then we inject new information, such as speed harmonisation. And what we see on the model is that you only need to get to about 10% of vehicles following these speed recommendations for it to have an effect on traffic as a whole. Below a certain percentage people can weave in and out. But at only around 10% you start to create a ‘block’ because a certain percentage of drivers will play ‘follow the leader’. And as you go from 10 to 20% your really on a steep rise in terms of being able to moderate flow.”

Xavier Salort (above) of Easy Mile looks forward to the imminent mass production of autonomous vehicles

“The roadmap is to make a new batch, the V2.5 (this one – pictured – being the V2) of 20-30 vehicles next year, with the first ones coming off the production line in March or April. We are planning to have mass production on the V3 vehicle at the end of 2016 and into 2017, with a goal of four vehicles a week on the production line, so we’ll have 100-200 vehicles made in 2017. Then we will be looking to get them into university campuses, airports, amusement parks and in cities on dedicated lanes, while we wait for new legislation.”

Eric Sampson CBE, senior advisor to ERTICO takes the long view…

“If I look back to Paris in 1994, I think the thing that really surprised me then was that my English mobile phone – or portable phone, it was hardly mobile! – worked in France, so we’ve come a long way. Those were the days when the ITS world was just full of research and ideas of what might be possible. The difference now is that it is possible – it’s all around us, it’s being tested, it’s being certified and everyone is taking it seriously.”

Neil Hoose, director of Bittern consulting predicts some challenges facing connectivity

“I’m not sure we are close to the point where variable message signs can be replaced with connected vehicle systems. There are several issues there. You can only do that when you are sure that all the vehicles are connected. And then, how do you know that everyone is connected all the time? And what do you do when the system fails? When the connected system fails you are left with nothing. There might come some point where you’ve got 90% connectivity. And someone says, right, it now makes sense to switch other 10% over. But before we do that the connected system has got to prove it is better.”

Shinpei Kato, associate professor, School of Information Science, Nagoya University, talks about the driverless car project he is leading

“We’re using the same set of sensors as the Google car. We are collaborating with Carnegie Mellon University and I’m sending some of my students (pictured above) there. The project only started one year ago and our cars are already being tested out on roads.”

Maxime Flament, head of connectivity and automation at ERTICO looks forward to a new era in Traffic Management

“The combination of big data and open data can dramatically increase the value of the information we have at our disposal. So for our new project TM2.0 (Traffic Management 2.0) the motto is to enable vehicle interaction – it is a forum for discussion, and what we call an implementation platform. We are looping the data in the vehicle through to the traffic management center. We are using different systems from different suppliers, and putting these systems into a single environment.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).