The most recent meeting of the UK’s Intelligent Transport Society (ITS-UK) has heard that the planning for the introduction of connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies on the country’s roads is turning from the technology behind it to the business cases that will make it happen.
Members of ITS-UK’s Connected Vehicle Forum at WSP’s offices in Birmingham were told by Darren Capes, ITS lead at the Department for Transport (DfT), that projects are underway preparing the ground for CAV technologies by working on the business case and narrative for authorities to understand the benefits of the technologies and what the issues might be. The meeting heard how a host of projects across the country have shown real answers, but also thrown up a number of issues and that it is these difficulties that are often the best outcomes because they highlight previously unconsidered issues.
Projects local to the Birmingham area were also discussed, highlighting how testing of individual vehicles is being scaled up to trials of whole service solutions as the knowledge of the CAV sector gathers pace. The meeting also heard about other work that is deemed to be essential before widespread CAV implementation, such as the digitization of the thousands of traffic orders on the roads, and how connectivity can make cities far more efficient through parking and kerbside management solutions. Delegates from the public-private Zenzic partnership (formerly Meridian Mobility) explained its roadmap to 2030 implementation, summarizing alignment and coordination efforts, and a project management that sees a number of pieces of work taking place in parallel. The meeting heard how, if such efforts were not coordinated, it might take another 50 years for large-scale implementation to be achieved.
“What was impressive about our range of discussion was the level of practicality on show. We heard nothing of people promising the earth tomorrow without a clue how it’ll happen, we heard a sober critique of what has been done and what is still to do,” noted the Forum’s chairman, Andy Graham of White Willow Consulting, which sponsored the meeting. “The other impressive element was the wide range of connected solutions that are already becoming commonplace; the connectivity technology we have is making a real difference, which may not be as exciting as driverless cars, but is here and now and making transport safer and more efficient.”
ITS-UK’s secretary general, Jennie Martin, commented, “It feels like I could go to a conference about driverless vehicles every day if I wanted to, but this event felt different because of Andy Graham’s focus on solutions and not blue sky thinking. The fact that this event had such great quality content and was free to members is further proof, if proof were needed, of the excellent value that you get from being a member of ITS-UK.”