Michael Lovejoy gave a very interesting presentation on intelligent transportation systems at the RYM Summit 2013 on behalf of Team Finland USA. His message was clear: it is now time for Finnish firms to get serious about intelligent vehicle and road technologies.
The IEA predicts that, globally, roads are likely to grow by nearly 25 million paved lane kilometers by 2050. Road investment will be a staggering $16.6 trillion between 2013 and 2030 alone. The investment, however, will not follow the traditional path. Sustainability, avoidance of congestion, and safety will be the key drivers.
According to Michael, in future roads will be definitely different. He talked about electric highways and intelligent transportation systems. Research projects and pilot tests are already under way to integrate information and communication technologies into transportation systems. For example, during one pilot program, driverless cars were able to drive on the streets of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Intelligent transport systems consist of a plethora of technologies. Vehicles will be able to communicate with each other and with the infrastructure. Cooperative systems will harmonize speeds on highways and provide the services required for automated vehicles. “Platooning” creates virtual trains out of individual cars. Data will flow from multiple sources, and multiple applications will be able to use it simultaneously.
Finnish technology and built environment companies have a once-in-a-generation chance to become involved in the intelligent transport business. The global market between now and 2019 is predicted to be about $30.2 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of over 11% between 2013 and 2019. North America accounts for 44% of the revenue.
Michael presented illustrations by a Dutch designer on what a smart highway could look like. Electric vehicles would have priority lanes, they would be charged wirelessly while moving, and there would be mobile traffic alerts, dynamic paint on the roads, interactive lighting, and energy-harvesting strips. Some of these technologies are already in limited use around the world.
Electric highways could become a reality much faster than anticipated because disruptive technologies can leapfrog into the future. As an example Michael presented the iGo car-sharing service concept. The concept consists of three vehicles: iMe, an urban personal, autonomous vehicle; iWe for car sharing in a city; and iUs, a driven vehicle for the suburban environment. Users can connect to the service, which resides “in the cloud”, through a phone app. Michael thinks that iGo exemplifies a type of game-changer that would eventually create the market and then sustain the investment in electric highways.