May 01, 2009
New generation of cars are ‘mobile high-tech platforms’Back
© Reuse this
Intelligent Transport Society of South Africa (ITSSA) CEO Dr Paul Vorster says today’s cars are almost “mobile high-tech platforms”, with a host of sensors that collect data and send messages to the driver.
Examples are speed/cruise control sounding audible warnings if the speed limit is exceeded, or adaptive cruise control where the vehicle will slow down, or stop, automatically once it detects an obstacle.
Another example is in-car global positioning systems (GPSes), which position vehicles on a map and direct drivers on the optimal route towards the destinations.
Vorster says this existing connectivity between the vehicle and the outside world opens endless possibilities for intelligent transport systems (ITSes).
“For example, with connectivity between the GPS-fitted vehicle and the wired world, real-time traffic data can be transmitted to the vehicle to redirect the driver on the basis of what is happening right now on the intended route.”
Already, around 70% of US vehicles feature on-board navigation systems.
In another form of connectivity, vehicles can also transmit messages to roadside equipment.
This allows for electronic toll collection (ETC), where a tag fitted inside the vehicle sends a signal to an ETC reader on a gantry across the road, which then reads the vehicle’s particulars and sends toll-payment instructions to a payment processing centre.
This is likely to become a common site on Gauteng’s refurbished highways when they become toll roads in 2011.
University of Texas Ernest H Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering Professor Mike Walton says it would be possible to one day use the same technology to pull in at a roadside McDonald’s and to pay electronically.
“In the future, we’ll see the expansion of this technology to include this capability.”
This type of connectivity also allows for electronic vehicle identification (EVI), where a vehicle is fitted not with a paper disc as its licence – as South African are used to – but with a tamperproof EVI.
“This is similar to the coded pin of a mobile phone, which enables a cellular network to prevent a stolen phone from being used.
“The EVI device sends a signal to a roadside reader, which then checks the vehicle’s particulars against a database of stolen and unlicensed cars,” explains Vorster.
“Some European countries are also deploying ecall systems, whereby a vehicle transmits an emergency signal when it is involved in an accident.
“The signal sends the GPS location of the vehicle to the emergency services.”
Vehicles can also receive messages from roadside equipment, or from other sources – in other words, vehicle-roadside connectivity.
An example is a roadside speed device with an automated number plate reader, which can measure the speed of an approaching vehicle, read the number plate and display the speed and registration number of the offending vehicle on a variable message sign, which tells the specific offending driver that he/she is exceeding the speed limit and should slow down, says Vorster.
A more futuristic example – but something which is already at the demonstration and testing stage – is equipment built into the road infrastructure; when an in-vehicle detector regards the vehicle as being too close to the edge of the road, the equipment emits either an audible warning, or moves the vehicle to the centre of the lane through an automated intervention.
The ultimate aim in terms of intelligent vehicles is a car that cannot crash.
“The car that can’t crash is technologically possible, but while we move towards intelligent cars, we also need to make progress with getting drivers to behave intelligently,” says Vorster.
The car that cannot crash is something that every automotive manufacturer is working towards in varying degrees – but the business case is still very far off, he adds.
“The car that can’t crash is [one] where technology and innovation [are used] to opti- mally counteract possible risk factors. One example is an infrared sensor that can detect pedestrians and animals in the road at a distance much further than the eye can see, thereby assisting the driver in taking evasive action.”
Walton notes that the global vehicle population will grow to one-billion by 2030, up from today’s 730-million units. Also, around 60% of the world’s population will live in cities, up from the roughly 50% today.
“By implementing ITSes such as these, it is possible to get an additional 20% benefit out of existing infrastructure, which will be important in the light of these numbers.”
Walton says: “Tomorrow’s vehicle is the highway sensor of the future.
“We simply do not have enough money to invest in all the infrastructure we need, and we can’t invest in sensors on each and every highway. Rather let the OEMs (vehicle manufacturers) do it; there are already so many sensors in cars.”
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Automotive News
International consulting engineering company Royal HaskoningDHV (RHDHV) has appointed Salani Sithole as South African MD, effective March 1. Sithole has been with the company for six years and, prior to joining RHDHV, held various positions in engineering consulting,...
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
This Week's Magazine
National flag carrier South African Airways (SAA) is in an advanced stage of renegotiating its deal with European airliner manufacturer Airbus to acquire A320 single-aisle (or narrow body) aircraft. The aim is to replace ten of the aircraft still on order with five...
Worldwide, the main thrust in the ports industry over the past decade or more has been to increase efficiency. Traditionally, ports have been run by engineers and mariners and, in the past, increasing a port’s capacity was achieved by expanding the harbour. “That has...
What do you do when an elephant has a toothache? You call Dr Gerhard Steenkamp from the University of Pretoria’s (UP’s) faculty of veterinary science, Onderstepoort, one of only two elephant ‘dentists’ in the world.
The 2015 Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) competition was launched earlier this month in Johannesburg, with the main focus on creating and inspiring entrepreneurs to create jobs and boost the economy.
In a recent letter to the editor that I sent to Engineering News (Concerns regarding South African portion of Square Kilometre Array) and in a follow-up article elaborating further (We must start preparations to build our own synchrotron light source), I stated my...